Ferens v. John Deer Co.

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Ferens v. John Deer Co.

Facts: Ferens, a resident of Pennsylvania, lost his right hand in a John Deer combine harvester. For some reason, he didn't file negligence and product liability suit against John Deer until after the Pennsylvania two year statute of limitations had passed. So Ferens filed in Mississippi, which has a six year statute of limitations. Diversity jurisdiction and venue were proper.

Procedural History: After filing in Mississippi, Ferens moved to transfer the action to the federal court in Pennsylvania on the ground that Pennsylvania was a more convenient forum. Motion granted. The district Ct. in Penn. declined to honor the Mississippi statute of limitations because if the transferor of venue is originated by the plaintiff, the choice of law doesn't transfer from the transferring forum. Ct of appeals affirmed because the applying of Mississippi law violates due process because Mississippi had no interest in the case. Supreme court remanded. Court of appeals affirmed again, this time ruling that a transferor court's choice of law rules do not apply after a transfer under section 1404(a) on a motion by a plaintiff.

Issue: In a plaintiff-initiated change of venue, does the transferring forum court's laws decide the case, or does the transferee forum court's laws decide?

Arguments: A plaintiff shouldn't be able to "forum shop" to get the best advantage of choice of law and most convenient forum

Holding: In all change of venue cases, the transferring forum's laws decide the case.

Reasons: There are other reasons other than the plaintiff's advantage why a change of venue is proper. They include convenience to the witnesses and evidence, cost to the court, etc. If it is decided that a change of venue will bring about the use of the transferee's laws, the result is that people will still file in the most legally advantageous court, but simply won't try to transfer, thus eliminating the intended effect of section 1404(a).

Judgment: Reversed and remanded.