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Republic of Bolivia v. Philip Morris Companies, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Philip Morris Companies, Inc. removed a case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas after being sued by the Republic of Bolivia.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A district court may suasponte transfer an action to another district court under 28 USC §1404(a).

    Facts.

    The Republic of Bolivia (Bolivia) filed suit against Philip Morris Companies, Inc. (Philip Morris) for injuries sustained by Bolivian citizens in use of the company’s tobacco products. The action was filed in the District Court of Bazoria County, Texas, and removed by Philip Morris to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

    Issue.

    Whether a district court may suasponte transfer an action to another district court under 28 USC §1404(a).

    Held.

    Yes. The case is transferred to the United State District Court for the District of Columbia. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has more relevant experience because Bolivia had an embassy there and a similar case pending.

    Discussion.

    Under 28 USC §1404(a), a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district court where the action might have been brought, for the convenience of the parties and witnesses.


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