Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Federal court judge sends injury case to Kentucky federal court

By Angela Underwood | Aug 17, 2017

BENTON – U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel both granted and denied in part a motion to dismiss defendant Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) motion in an Aug. 7 ruling claiming lack of personal jurisdiction.

According to the order, when a deckhand and plaintiff Timothy McQuay, who worked with Inland Marine Services, was on a delivery to a TVA’s Paradise Fossil Plant in 2014, he became permanently injured on the barge while unloading coal. Claiming that TVA agents, servants and employees were responsible for his injury, McQuay additionally charged Inland Marine for negligence based on general maritime law and the Jones Act. But jurisdiction became an issue since McQuay was an Illinois resident and TVA had headquarters in Alabama and executive locations in Tennessee. Additionally, defendant Inland Marine’s jurisdiction was also in Kentucky.

In 2016, TVA attempted to dismiss for personal jurisdiction on a statute enacted in 1933. 

“That statute specifically states that TVA is ‘an inhabitant and resident of the northern judicial district of Alabama within the meaning of the laws of the United States relating to venue of civil suits,’” the judge wrote in her ruling. After specifically noting terms of the general venue statute, Rosenstengel said the Southern District of Illinois did not meet the needed requirement as in prior consideration. 

“Further, none of the events giving rise to the claims in the amended complaint case took place in this court’s jurisdiction,” the judge wrote in her ruling. “Rather, all of those events took place in the Western District Court of Kentucky. Thus, under venue is proper in the Western District of Kentucky rather than this court.”

Specifically citing Metropa Co. LTD v. Choi 1978, the judge wrote “when it is clear where proper venue can be laid, courts will generally transfer the case rather than dismiss.” 

Because some witnesses and those who treated McQuay are Kentucky citizens, “the court finds, therefore, that it is in the interest of justice to transfer this case to the Western District of Kentucky, rather than dismiss it,” according to the judge, who granted and denied in part TVA’s motion to dismiss for jurisdictional reasons.

Simultaneously the judge granted the portion of TVA’s Motion requesting transfer to the U.S. district court; however, “the portion of TVA’s motion requesting dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction is denied as moot,” she wrote in her ruling and ordered the action transferred to the Western District of Kentucky.

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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky