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Paul Archambault, Individually, and As v. United States of America

December 17, 2012

PAUL ARCHAMBAULT, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF HARRIET ARCHAMBAULT, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Veronica L. Duffy United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING) DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR ) CHANGE OF VENUE ) [Docket 10]

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the court is a motion to transfer venue filed by defendant United States of America. The United States moves the court to transfer the above-captioned case to the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Northern Division, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(b). See Docket No. 10. Plaintiff Paul Archambault, as Administrator for his wife's estate, did not file a response to the motion within the time set by the district court and local rules. The district court, the Honorable Jeffrey L. Viken, referred the motion to this magistrate judge for resolution, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). See Docket No. 13.

FACTS

Paul Archambault brought suit on behalf of his wife's estate against the Department of Health and Human Services, a federal agency of the United States, which operates the McLaughlin Indian Health Service ("IHS") Hospital in McLaughlin, South Dakota, alleging that the hospital's medical malpractice resulted in his wife's death. See Docket No. 1. Defendant asserts that the IHS facility in McLaughlin is a clinic. See Docket No. 12 at 1, ¶ 2. This court will refer to the clinic/hospital as "the McLaughlin IHS facility" for purposes of this opinion. Jurisdiction is proper in federal court because the United States is the defendant. See 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1).

The McLaughlin IHS facility is located within the exterior boundaries of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation and provides services to Native Americans. See Docket No. 1 at page 1, ¶ 2. The parties agree that Paul Archambault's wife, Harriet, had her last prescription for hypertension medication filled at the McLaughlin IHS facility on approximately October 25, 2007. See id. at page 2, ¶ 4; see Docket No. 12 at page 1, ¶ 4. Paul Archambault alleges the McLaughlin IHS facility staff examining his wife noted increased blood pressure but did not reschedule a recheck appointment earlier than three months out. See Docket No. 1 at page 2, ¶ 5. According to Mr. Archambault, his wife Harriet visited the McLaughlin IHS facility eight times during October and November of 2007 because she was experiencing new symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pains, and dizziness. Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.

Mr. Archambault asserts that the McLaughlin IHS facility has a policy of seeing ten patients per morning and ten patients per afternoon on a first-come, first-served basis. Id. Mr. Archambault states that Harriet was turned away each time she attempted to get an appointment. Id.

Harriet Archambault died on November 27, 2007 from a myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure. See Docket 1-1 at page 3.

Mr. Archambault claims that the McLaughlin IHS facility's negligence caused his wife's death. See Docket 1 at page 3, ¶ 9. The United States denies any liability. See Docket No. 12 at page 3, ¶ 3. Mr. Archambault asserts that he has exhausted all administrative remedies by submitting a claim to IHS on October 19, 2009. See Docket 1 at page 3, ¶ ¶ 11-12. The United States denies that Mr. Archambault's claim was presented in accordance with statutory requirements. See Docket No. 12 at page 2, ¶ 11.

The government filed the instant motion to transfer venue to the District of South Dakota, Northern Division pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(b). See Docket No. 10. The government notes that both the McLaughlin IHS facility and Mr. Archambault's residence are located in Corson county, South Dakota, which is within the Northern Division. See Docket No. 11 at 2; 28 U.S.C. § 122(1). Further, the government concludes that the Northern Division would be a more convenient forum for the witnesses. See Docket No. 11 at 2-3.

DISCUSSION

Parties may request that venue be transferred to another federal court. Discretionary transfer under § 1404(a) may be appropriate where the action is brought in one district or division, but might have properly been brought in another, and where the choice of forum implicates considerations of inconvenience to the parties and witnesses. See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Intradistrict transfers (i.e. transfers from one division to another division within the same district) are governed by § 1404(b). See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(b).

Section 1404(a) provides as follows:

For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any ...


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