Will a court grant a motion to transfer to ease access to electronic data?
On March 23, 2018, in Farrell v. Lease Supervisors, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48090 (N.D. Tex.), Judge Sidney Fitzwater denied the defendants motion to transfer a unpaid overtime Fair Labor Standards Act case from the Northern District of Texas to the Western District of Texas. The defendant conducts its business in Odessa, located in the Western District, and its manger resides there.
As part of his decision, Judge Fitzwater considered the plaintiff's argument that the ease of access to electronic data meant that the physical location of the defendant's records should not be considered, but still held that the location of electronic evidence in the Western District could still be a 'slight' factor weighing in favor of transfer. It noted the plaintiff's failure to identify any documentary evidence located in the Northern District. The opinion quotes, Smith's Consumer Prods.,Inc. v. Fortune Prods., Inc., "Although the technological convenience of ediscovery may diminish concerns associated with the location of evidence, it does not negate the significance of or eliminate consideration of this factor in a section 1404(a) transfer analysis." , 2015 WL 1037419, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 9, 2015) .
However the court found other private interest factors (the availability of compulsory process over witnesses; cost of attendance for witnesses; other practical problems) to not weigh significantly for or against transfer, and other public factors (avoiding a conflict of laws; the forum's familiarity with the law at issue; administrative concerns; local interest in the dispute) to either be negligible or unaddressed by the parties. So while the physical location of electronic data can help support a motion for transfer, it is apparently insufficient to support the motion by itself.