United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
THE ESTATE OF KEITH FRANKLIN, by its personal representative, KAREN FRANKLIN, Plaintiff,
STATE OF MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS-DUANE WATERS HEALTH CENTER, DANIEL H. HEYNS, individually and in his official capacity as the former Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, CORIZON HEALTH, INC., a subsidiary of Valitas Health Services, Inc., JANAK R. BHAVSAR, M.D., individually and in his official capacity, DANIEL T. CARREL, D.O., individually and in his official capacity, SCOTT L. HOLMES, M.D., individually and in his official capacity, jointly and severally, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
CHANGE VENUE 
J. MICHELSON U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Franklin died of cancer while in the custody of the Michigan
Department of Corrections. The personal representative of his
estate, his mother Karen Franklin, initiated this prisoner
civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Some of
the events giving rise to the case happened in this district,
while others happened in the Western District of Michigan.
Defendants moved to transfer venue to the Western District of
Michigan under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (R. 40.) For the
reasons discussed below, the Court will deny Defendants'
follows is a brief summary of the complaint's allegations
and how those allegations relate to the Eastern or Western
Districts of Michigan.
August 6, 2012, Plaintiff's Decedent Keith Franklin was
incarcerated at MDOC's Reception and Guidance Center
(“RGC”) in Jackson, Michigan (R.1, PID 11), which
is in Jackson County and within the Eastern District of
Michigan, 28 U.S.C. § 102(a)(1). While Decedent was at
RGC, Defendant Dr. Janak Bhavsar conducted a medical
screening and assessment to determine Decedent's medical
needs and to ensure a medically safe transfer from RGC to
another facility. (R. 1, PID 9, 11.) Dr. Bhavsar's report
noted a “[p]alpable lymphnode” near
Decedent's jaw. (R. 1, PID 12.) Plaintiff claims that Dr.
Bhavsar, MDOC, and Corizon, which provides medical services
for MDOC, failed to provide a constitutional level of care by
not alerting Decedent to the palpable lymph node, not
treating the mass, not creating a plan of care, and not doing
any follow up testing. (R. 1, PID 54-55.)
weeks after the initial assessment, on August 24, 2012, MDOC
transferred Decedent to the Carson City Correction Facility
(“CCCF”) (R. 1, PID 17), which is in Montcalm
County in the Western District of Michigan, 28 U.S.C. §
102(b)(1). Shortly thereafter, Decedent underwent an intake
medical assessment, which did not address the lymph node. (R.
1, PID 17.) Decedent allegedly spent more than a year in CCCF
and had various medical examinations by individuals including
Defendant Dr. Daniel Carrel before anyone inspected or
reported on the lymph node again. (R. 1, PID 18-21.) An
October 9, 2013 report noted the lymph node, indicating that
Decedent had stated it was “5-6 times larger”
than it had been a year ago. (R. 1, PID 21.) Defendant Dr.
Scott Holmes examined Decedent on October 23 and created an
assessment plan. (R. 1, PID 22-23.) Finally, a neck x-ray was
taken on October 30, 2013 to evaluate the mass on
Decedent's neck. (R. 1, PID 23.) This x-ray was followed
by a CT scan on November 22, 2013. (R. 1, PID 25.) Based on
the results, an ENT consultation was requested but allegedly
delayed. (R. 1, PID 25-28.) Decedent finally visited the ENT
and had a biopsy on March 19, 2014, and within days it
resulted in a diagnosis of tonsil and neck cancer. (R. 1, PID
30-31.) The complaint goes on to describe further medical
records from subsequent treatment, including issues
surrounding obtaining a PET scan, which allegedly delayed
Decedent's receipt of chemotherapy. (See,
e.g., R. 1, PID 39-40.) Based on the alleged delay
in diagnosing Decedent's cancer and providing Decedent
chemotherapy, Plaintiff claims that MDOC, Corizon, Dr.
Carrel, and Dr. Holmes failed to provide a constitutional
level of care. (R. 1, PID 55.)
June 19, 2014 to June 23, 2014, Decedent was hospitalized at
McLaren Hospital for chemotherapy treatments. (R. 1, PID 41.)
McLaren Hospital is located in Ingham County, which, like
CCCF, is within the Western District of Michigan. 28 U.S.C.
§ 102(b)(1). The complaint alleges that while there,
Decedent's lab results were abnormal, but Dr. Cheryl
Kovalski (no longer a defendant) failed to repeat the lab
work. (R. 1, PID 42.) The complaint further alleges that
McLaren discharged Decedent even though “he was in a
medically unstable condition.” (R. 1, PID 43.) Upon
discharge from McLaren on June 23, 2014, Decedent was
nauseous and vomiting. (R. 1, PID 42.) But the complaint
alleges that MDOC, Corizon, and McLaren failed to take any
special medical precautions when Decedent returned to CCCF.
(R. 1, PID 43.)
several days of vomiting, nausea, and throat pain-the
combination of which was allegedly severe enough to prevent
Decedent from orally taking medication-Decedent was
transferred to a hospital within RGC for hydration on June
27, 2014. (R. 1, PID 4, 44-47.) Upon Decedent's arrival
at RGC-back within the Eastern District of Michigan-his
condition worsened, and the medical staff from RGC contacted
Emergency Medical Services for an ambulance the next morning.
(R. 1, PID 47-48.) One day after arriving at the Allegiance
Emergency Room, (still in the Eastern District of Michigan),
Decedent passed away. (R. 1, PID 51.) The subsequent autopsy
revealed that the cause of death was the neck cancer that had
been diagnosed three months prior. (R. 1, PID 51.) Plaintiff
claims that in Decedent's final days, MDOC, Corizon,
Carrel, and Holmes failed to respond to his deteriorating
condition. (R. 1, PID 56-57.)
as the personal representative of Decedent's estate,
filed a complaint in this Court on October 6, 2016. (R. 1.)
The complaint asserts two counts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Count I asserts that Defendants MDOC, Corizon, and Daniel
Heyns (MDOC's former director) engaged in an
unconstitutional custom, policy, or practice in violation of
the Eighth Amendment. Count II asserts that Defendants Dr.
Bhavsar, Dr. Daniel Carrel (who treated Decedent at CCCF),
Dr. Holmes, Dr. Kovalski, and McLaren Health Care Corporation
were all deliberately indifferent to Decedent's serious
medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
February 7, 2017, Defendants McLaren Health Care Corporation
and Kovalski filed a motion to change venue to the Western
District of Michigan. (R. 40.) Following the filing, McLaren
and Kovalski reached agreements with the Plaintiff and were
dismissed from the case. (R. 50, 59.) But the remaining
defendants have either joined the motion or indicated they do
not oppose it. (R. 46, 49.) After careful consideration of
the briefs and thorough review of the record, the Court finds
that oral argument will not aid in resolving the pending
motion. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2).
the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to
any other district or division where it might have been
brought[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). There is no
dispute that this case could have been brought initially in
the Western District of Michigan. (R. 48, PID 529.) Thus, the
focus will be on the convenience and interest of justice
factors, and district courts have “broad discretion to
determine when party convenience or the interests of justice
make a transfer appropriate.” Reese v. CNH
Am., 574 F.3d 315, 320 (6th Cir. 2009) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). The party seeking
transfer must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence
that “fairness and practicality ...