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Thompson v. Greyhound Lines, Inc.

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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff had a court hearing in Tunica, Mississippi, and purchased a one-way ticket from Defendant Greyhound in Pensacola. The trip would require the passenger to switch buses twice. While in transit, Plaintiff took a nap. He did not wake up at the stop where he was supposed to switch buses and the bus he rode returned to its original destination. As a result, Plaintiff missed his court date and was found guilty in absentia. Plaintiff sued the bus companies as well as the driver in Alabama on several state law causes of action. Subject-matter jurisdiction is based on diversity jurisdiction. A motion to dismiss was filed by Defendants for improper venue and failure to state a claim.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2), if the defendants in a federal diversity action do not reside in the same state, venue is proper in any district where a substantial portion of the events giving rise to the action occurred.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

Generally, the interests of justice favor transferring a case to the appropriate judicial district rather than dismissing it.

View Full Point of Law
Facts.

Plaintiff purchased a ticket from Pensacola, Florida, to Tunica, Mississippi, from Defendant on March 14, 2011. The ticket provided that Plaintiff would arrive in Tunica at 5:05 p.m. on March 15, 2011. Plaintiff left Pensacola on Defendant Greyhound‘s bus and arrived in Mobile just after midnight. Plaintiff was then directed to another bus, which was going to Jackson, Mississippi, operated by Defendant Colonial Trailways. The bus driver, Defendant Reeves, told Plaintiff that another bus would take him to Tunica from Jackson. The bus planned to return to Mobile after stopping in Jackson. Plaintiff fell asleep, missed the stop in Jackson, and was returned to Mobile. Plaintiff sued Defendants  in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, invoking diversity jurisdiction. Reeves was a Florida resident. Plaintiff alleged that he missed a court date due to the actions of Defendants. Greyhound moved to dismiss the action based on improper venue and for failure to state a claim.

Issue.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2), is venue proper in any district where a substantial portion of the events giving rise to the action occurred, if the defendants in a federal diversity action do not reside in the same state?

Held.

Yes.

Discussion.

If the defendants in a federal diversity action do not reside in the same state, venue is proper in any district where a substantial portion of the events giving rise to the action occurred. Venue in federal diversity actions is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Under that statute, venue is proper in a district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the same state. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1). Venue is also proper in a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). Here, Reeves is a resident of Florida, not Alabama. Therefore, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1) does not establish venue. The only event that occurred in the southern district of Alabama was Plaintiff’s transfer from the Greyhound bus to the Colonial bus. This transfer does not constitute a substantial part of the events that gave rise to the breach of contract or negligence claims. However, venue would be proper in the southern district of Mississippi, because a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred there. Plaintiff was driven there, Reeves did not wake Plaintiff up there, and Greyhound sold the ticket to transport Plaintiff through there. Generally, cases filed in districts in which venue is not proper should be transferred to a district in which venue would be proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Because Defendant did not present any explanation for why the case should be dismissed rather than transferred, the case was transferred to the Southern District of Mississippi.


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