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Court Ponders "Hellhole" Change of Venue Requests

The Marshall Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas is famous for its speed and efficiency and infamous as a plaintiff-friendly "judicial hellhole."

Whatever your perspective, there is no doubt that Marshall is a litigation magnet and that plenty of corporate defendants would love to "get out of Dodge," if only they could find an escape route.

"Really all we are arguing for is a continuation of the law as it existed, in our view, in the 5th Circuit since the early 1960s, if not before," says Barry Siegel, a solo practitioner in Houston who represents the plaintiffs.

No Connection
In October, a 5th Circuit panel that heard Volkswagen's petition for a change of venue was unpersuaded by that precedent and ordered the case moved to Dallas.

"The plaintiffs exercised their privilege to choose the Marshall Division as the forum for their case, but Marshall has no connection to the parties or the facts of this case," explained Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly. "When the transferee forum is no more convenient than the chosen forum, the plaintiff's choice should not be disturbed. When the transferee forum is clearly more convenient, a transfer should be ordered."

Cristin Schmitz

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