Hoffman v. Blaski

363 U.S. 335, 80 S. Ct. 1084 (1960)



If when a suit is commenced, plaintiff has a right to sue in that district, independently of the wishes of defendant, it is a district "where the action might have been brought" under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1404(a). If he does not have that right, independently of the wishes of defendant, it is not a district "where the action might have been brought," and it is immaterial that the defendant subsequently makes himself subject, by consent, waiver of venue, and personal jurisdiction defenses, or otherwise, to the jurisdiction of some other forum.


Respondent litigants initiated lawsuits against third parties. The third parties sought to transfer the cases to districts in which respondents could not have initiated the actions and the third parties agreed to waive any objections to venue. Petitioner judges either accepted jurisdiction over the cases or transferred the cases to the other districts under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1404(a). The appellate court reversed petitioners' judgments. On appeal, the Court affirmed the appellate court's judgments.


Did the District Court err in transferring the action, on the motion of the defendant, to a district in which the plaintiff did not have a right to bring it?




Based upon the statutory language and legislative history, the phrase "where it might have been brought" in § 1404(a) could not be interpreted to mean "where the case could be brought after the suit was initiated and with defendants' consent." The district courts' power to transfer a case under § 1404(a) did not depend on whether the third parties consented to the transferee district or waived venue and personal jurisdiction defenses, but rather it depended on respondents' ability to initiate the suits in the transferee districts.


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