United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
KRISTI HASKINS, LAURA SCULLY, AND DONALD J. JANAK, individually and as representatives of a class of similarly situated persons in the General Electric Retirement Savings Plan and the General Electric Savings and Security Program, Plaintiff,
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY; GENERAL ELECTRIC RETIREMENT SAVINGS PLAN TRUSTEES, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER CASE TO THE
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS [DOC. NO. 24]
CATHY ANN BENCIVENGO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 26, 2017, Plaintiffs filed this putative class
action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of
1974 (“ERISA”) alleging breaches of fiduciary
duties and mismanagement of Defendant General Electric
Company's 401(k) plan. Within the next two months, three
virtually identical putative class actions were filed in the
District of Massachusetts, where GE is headquartered. On
December 12, 2017, Judge Denise Casper entered an order
granting a stipulation by the parties in the three
Massachusetts cases to consolidate them into one action
captioned In re GE ERISA Litigation, Case No.
1:17-CV-12123-DJC (the “Consolidated Action”). On
January 12, 2018, a consolidated amended complaint was filed
in the Consolidated Action.
Defendants in the instant case move to transfer venue to
Massachusetts, while the named Plaintiffs here have moved to
intervene in the Consolidated Action seeking to have the
Consolidated Action transferred to this district or stayed.
All parties to the Consolidated Action oppose Plaintiffs'
motion, and Plaintiffs oppose Defendants motion to transfer
in this case. Defendants' motion to transfer venue in
this case is fully briefed, and the Court deems it suitable
for submission without oral argument. The motion is granted.
the convenience of the 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 district or division to which all parties
have consented.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The factors
relevant to the determination of whether transfer is
appropriate under Section 1404(a) include, without
(1) the location where the relevant agreements were
negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar
with the governing law, (3) the plaintiffs choice of forum,
(4) the respective parties' contacts with the forum, (5)
the contacts relating to the plaintiffs cause of action in
the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of
litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of
compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling
non-party witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of
Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99
(9th Cir. 2000). All of these factors are either neutral or
favor transfer to Massachusetts. The alleged wrongdoing
occurred primarily in Massachusetts or Connecticut. Because
federal law applies, this factor is neutral. Because this
dispute involves a putative nationwide class, the fact that
three of the individual members of the class prefer to
litigate here does not warrant much weight considering that
the vast majority of the class does not reside here, and a
majority of the individuals seeking to be named class members
prefer to litigate this dispute in Massachusetts. The only
contact relating to this forum is that two of the named
plaintiffs in this case and some of the putative class reside
here. Meanwhile, many of the defendants and relevant
witnesses as well as many of the putative class members
reside in or near Massachusetts. Thus, while some of the
operative facts may have occurred in this district,
significantly more of the operative facts occurred and
originated in or near Massachusetts. Further, the costs of
litigating and the availability of compulsory process here
versus Massachusetts are at best neutral and more likely
favor Massachusetts considering that more witnesses reside
there. Likewise, the ease of access to sources of proof is at
best neutral but likely favors Massachusetts considering that
GE is headquartered there.
quibble with Defendants' support for their arguments that
the more appropriate venue for this case is Massachusetts,
but Plaintiffs provide little support for the idea that San
Diego would be a better or even equal venue. Ultimately,
Plaintiffs only argument for denying Defendant motion to
transfer venue is that Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit before
the lawsuits that were joined into the Consolidated Action.
While this first-to-file principle may justify deference to
the forum of the first filed case when a plaintiff and
defendant each file what is effectively the same lawsuit in
different forums, the principle has little relevance here.
All four lawsuits were filed on behalf of what is essentially
the same plaintiff class. That three members of the class
filed first here warrants little deference when other members
of the same class, as well as Defendants, prefer to litigate
this dispute in Massachusetts. Indeed, considering the number
of individuals interested in representing the class in
Massachusetts, the Court is not persuaded how the named
plaintiffs here will suffer any burden. Accordingly, the
fact that this lawsuit was filed first does not overcome the
many reasons why Massachusetts is the more appropriate forum.
the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the
witnesses, the interests of justice, and judicial efficiency
all overwhelmingly favor litigating this dispute between a
nationwide class and Defendants in Massachusetts instead of
San Diego. Therefore, Defendants' motion to transfer
venue is GRANTED, and this case is
TRANSFERRED to the District of
It is SO ORDERED.
 Moreover, the existence of other
willing class members who could represent the class in
Massachusetts ostensibly renders Plaintiffs'