United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
JONATHAN J. RODRIGUEZ ARAGONES Plaintiff,
MICHAEL R. POMPEO, Secretary, Department of State Defendant.
William E. Smith Chief Judge
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss This Action as
Improperly Venued, or, in the Alternative, to Transfer to the
United States District Court for the District of Columbia or
the District of Massachusetts (“Def. Mot.”), ECF
No. 13. The Plaintiff filed an Objection and Response to
Defendant's Motion, ECF No. 14, and Defendant filed a
Reply, ECF No. 15. For the reasons stated below, the Court
GRANTS Defendant's Motion and the case is hereby
TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(3) allows a defendant to
move to dismiss for improper venue. When ruling on such a
motion, the Court must treat all facts pled in the Complaint
as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the
plaintiff's favor, unless contradicted by the
defendant's affidavits. Stars for Art Prod. FZ, LLC
v. Dandana, LLC, 806 F.Supp.2d 437, 447 (D. Mass. 2011)
(“A district court may examine facts outside the
complaint to determine whether venue is proper.”)
“[T]he plaintiff has the burden of proving that its
chosen venue is proper.” Johnson v. Gen. Dynamics
Info. Tech., Inc., 675 F.Supp.2d 236, 239 (D.N.H. 2009).
Complaint, Plaintiff sues Michael R. Pompeo, the Secretary of
State, “in his official capacity, ” alleging
violations of Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities
Act. Pl. Compl. 1-3 (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1. He
states that “the claims arise from events which
occurred while the Plaintiff lived in Providence, Rhode
Island. Accordingly, venue lies in the ... [District of]
Rhode Island under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5(f)(3).” Compl. 3. Defendant argues that
Plaintiff's suit does not meet the criteria for venue in
Rhode Island under either of those statutes.
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) is the venue provision for Title
VII employment discrimination actions, and courts both within
this Circuit and other Circuits have held that it is
exclusive in nature. “Almost uniformly, courts
considering this question have applied section 2000e-5(f)(3)
to determine venue in employment discrimination actions
premised on Title VII.” Bolar v. Frank, 938
F.2d 377, 3789 (2d Cir. 1991) (listing cases). In this
Circuit, the District Court of Massachusetts likewise held
that “[i]n a Title VII action, venue is governed by 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) rather than the general venue
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391.” Foley v.
Holder, No. 09-11157-JGD, 2010 WL 3938345, at *2 (D.
Mass. Oct. 5, 2010); see also Pinson v. Rumsfeld,
192 Fed.Appx. 811, 817 (11th Cir. 2006) (holding that 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) is the exclusive venue provision
for Title VII employment discrimination actions, rather than
§ 1391); Stebbins v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 413 F.2d 1100, 1102-03 (D.C. Cir. 1969)
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) provides four different options
for venue in a Title VII employment discrimination case: (1)
The State in which the unlawful employment practice was
allegedly committed; (2) the judicial district in which the
relevant employment records are maintained and administered;
(3) the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would
have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice;
or (4) if none of those apply, and respondent is not found
within any such district, an action may be brought in the
district where respondent has its principal office. 42 U.S.C.
Plaintiff's contention that the “claims [in his
Complaint] arise from events which occurred while the
Plaintiff lived in Providence, Rhode Island, ” even if
it were true, would not satisfy any of the provisions for
venue in § 2000e-5(f)(3). As to the first and second
venue criteria in the statute, Plaintiff's complaint does
not contain any allegations that the alleged unlawful
employment practices took place in Rhode Island, and
Defendant's declaration stated that none of the offices
identified in the complaint are located in Rhode Island, nor
are the Department of State's employment records. See
Generally Compl.; Decl. of Amy H. Granger
(“Granger Decl.”) ¶ 8-15, ECF No. 13-1.
Plaintiff also never argues that the position he would have
had but for the discrimination was located in Rhode Island.
Compl. ¶ 6, 11, 17. Lastly, the State Department has its
headquarters and principal office in Washington, D.C., and
not anywhere in Rhode Island. Granger Decl. at 1. Therefore,
Plaintiff has not met his burden to prove that Rhode Island
is a proper venue for this action.
request that this Court either dismiss the action or transfer
it to a proper venue in Washington, D.C. or in Massachusetts.
Def. Mot. 1. Courts generally favor transfer over dismissal.
Stars for Art Prod., 806 F.Supp.2d at 449 (quoting
Cormier v. Fisher, 409 F.Supp.2d 357, 363 (D. Me.
2005). Additionally, venue may be proper in more than one
district, and the Court is not “required to determine
the best venue, merely a proper venue.” Astro-Med,
Inc. v. Nihon Kohden Am., Inc., 591 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir.
2009). In a footnote, Defendant suggests that “the
District of Columbia has the greater nexus with the case
under the relevant statute, ” and the Court agrees. Def
Mot. 1, n.1. Given that the State Department is headquartered
in Washington, D.C. and many of the factual allegations
Plaintiff makes concern Offices of the State Department that
are located in D.C., the Court finds that the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia is the
appropriate venue for this action.
reasons outlined above, the Court GRANTS Defendant's
Motion and TRANSFERS the case to the United States District
Court for the District of Columbia.