United States District Court, D. Maine
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
SET TRIAL IN PORTLAND
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
action, Plaintiff Peter Phaneuf seeks to recover damages for
injuries he sustained as the result of a rollover incident
involving an all-terrain vehicle (the ATV) in Monson, Maine,
on May 25, 2013. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Polaris
Industries designed and manufactured the ATV, which was
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Set
Trial in Portland. (ECF No. 4.) After consideration of the
parties' arguments, the Court denies the motion.
to Plaintiff, in 2009 Plaintiff purchased the ATV in Jackman,
Maine. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) On May 25, 2013, Plaintiff was
operating the ATV in Monson, Maine, when it rolled over and
pinned him to the ground. The ATV continued to idle for 90
minutes before someone came to the scene to assist Plaintiff.
During the time he was under the ATV, Plaintiff suffered
severe burns because his foot was pinned against the
ATV's exhaust system. Plaintiff maintains that the ATV
lacked a “tilt switch” that would stop the engine
in the event of a rollover.
support of his request to move the trial of the matter from
Bangor to Portland, Plaintiff relies primarily on the
convenience for witnesses and Plaintiff. Plaintiff is a
Massachusetts resident, as are several witnesses who
accompanied him to Monson in May 2013. (Motion to Set Trial
in Portland at 1, ¶¶ 4 - 5, ECF No. 4.) Plaintiff
has retained expert witnesses who reside outside of Maine.
(Id. at 1 - 2, ¶ 6.) Except for his initial
treatment in Maine, Plaintiff has received all of his medical
treatment in Massachusetts. (Id. at 2, ¶ 7.)
Defendant is incorporated under the laws of the State of
Minnesota, and does business throughout the State of Maine.
(Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff contends a trial in
Portland would substantially decrease the burden on Plaintiff
and his witnesses, without causing a significant disadvantage
for Defendant. (Id. ¶ 10.)
argues that Bangor is more convenient for many of the
potential witnesses, including the first responders (i.e.,
members of the Greenville Fire Department and a Maine State
Warden) and medical providers at Mayo Regional Hospital in
Dover-Foxcroft, where Plaintiff received his initial medical
care. (Defendant's Opposition at 2, ECF No. 11.)
cites District of Maine Local Rule 3 in support of his
request for transfer. Rule 3 provides in relevant part:
- COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION
Maine constitutes one judicial district. Court shall be held
at Bangor and Portland. The filing party shall file each new
action in Bangor or Portland, and the latter shall ordinarily
be tried in Bangor or Portland, by reference to the county in
which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claim occurred or in which a substantial part of
the property that is the subject of the action is situated.
Cases arising in the counties of Aroostook, Franklin,
Hancock, Kennebec, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo
and Washington shall be filed and ordinarily tried at Bangor.
Cases arising in the counties of Androscoggin, Cumberland,
Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Sagadahoc and York shall be filed and
ordinarily tried at Portland. ….
D. Me. Loc. R. 3(b). Pursuant to Rule 3, Plaintiff's
action is appropriately assigned to the Bangor division
because the subject events or omissions occurred in Somerset
County (locus of purchase) and Piscataquis County (locus of
accident). By rule, therefore, the matter “shall
ordinarily be tried in Bangor.” Id. Plaintiff
argues that the plain language of the Rule (i.e., use of the
term “ordinarily”) confirms the Court is not
required to conduct the trial in Bangor.
cites Local Rule 1 to support its opposition to the motion.
Local Rule 1 provides in part: “The Court may relax
these rules in exceptional circumstances when justice so
requires.” D. Me. Loc. R. 1(a). Defendant contends the
necessary exceptional ...