Venue transfer to Western District Of Kentucky denied in dredge injury case against C.J. Mahon

By Dawn Geske | Mar 12, 2017

A motion to transfer a barge worker's personal injury case from the Southern District of Illinois to the Western District of Kentucky has been denied by District Judge Phil Gilbert.

A motion to transfer a barge worker's personal injury case from the Southern District of Illinois to the Western District of Kentucky has been denied by District Judge Phil Gilbert. 

Defendant C.J. Mahon Construction Company had asked the court to transfer the case brought by plaintiff Grover S. Copley, arguing that it would be more convenient for all parties involved.

C.J. Mahon, an Ohio-based company, argued that Copley's alleged injury took place within Kentucky jurisdiction as it was on the Ohio River near the Smithland Lock and Dam. Copley, who worked on a dredge owned and operated by the defendant, was injured while tying off the barges on the Ohio River near the Smithland Lock and Dam. 

Copley, who resides in West Virginia, had been treated for injuries in Evansville, Ind. He chose the Southern District of Illinois as his court of choice, stating that the venue is close to his surgeon who will testify in the case. 

C.J. Mahon, however, maintained that the Western Kentucky District Court would be more convenient for its other numerous witnesses.

In response to the argument, Copley pointed to the location of the Smithland Lock and Dam on the Illinois side of the Ohio River. He also noted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lock system, has offices in Brookport, Ill. In reference to the witnesses needed to testify to the case and their location, Copley claimed there was only one eye witness, from Kentucky, and the other witnesses in the case are likely to hail from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and West Virginia.

Gilbert ruled that venue was relevant to the incident and that C.J. Mahon didn’t satisfactorily prove the merits of transferring the case in relation to convenience. He also stated that the witnesses that C.J. Mahon referred to are not too far from the Illinois court, as they mostly likely would have some connection to the Smithland Lock and Dam.

Copley is suing under the Jones Act citing “negligence, general maritime law for seaworthiness, and for maintenance and cure."

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