Federal Procedure – Venue – Interpretation of Section 1404(a) in Cases Arising Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act

Three petitioners instituted separate suits in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under the provisions of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, for injuries received in the derailment of a train in South Carolina. The cases were transferred to the Eastern District of South Carolina under the provisions of section 1404 (a), title 28, U.S.C. Because of a court of appeals ruling that orders for transfer were not appealable, petitioners sought mandamus to compel the district judge to set aside his orders for transfer. The court of appeals denied the applications. On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, held, affirmed. Inasmuch as section 1404 (a) substituted transfer for dismissal, the harshest part of the doctrine of forum non conveniens was eliminated; thus the section was more than a mere codification of that doctrine. Its purpose was to permit transfers upon a lesser showing of inconvenience than the stringent requirements of forum non conveniens. Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 75 S.Ct. 544 (1955).