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Airport Working Group of Orange County, Inc. v. Department of Defense

Citation: 33 ELR 20082
No. No. 02-1220(ESH), 226 F. Supp. 2d 227/(D.D.C., 10/22/2002)

A court granted the government's transfer of venue motion in a case brought by aviation groups challenging the government's decision designating a Marine Corps air station in California for a park with mixed use development. The groups brought the case challenging the government's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Air Act in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The government sought to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The court first holds that it is beyond dispute that venue is proper in the central district because the claim involves disposal of surplus federal property that is located in the central district. Although deference is usually given to the plaintiff in determining whether a transfer of venue is justified, that deference is diminished where, as here, transfer is sought to plaintiffs' resident forum, plaintiffs have substantial ties to the forum and the subject matter of the lawsuit is connected to that state, and the choice of forum has no meaningful ties to the controversy and no particular interest in the parties or subject matter. Moreover, the issues raised by this lawsuit are of great concern to the residents of Orange County, and while the convenience of witnesses is likely to be of no relevance since this is a review of an administrative record, the location of the voluminous administrative record--estimated to be over 100,000 pages--in California is significant. Further, the interests of justice strongly mitigate in favor of transfer. The disposition and future use of the air station will have a profound effect on the local environment and the use of local resources. Therefore, the government's motion to transfer venue was granted.

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