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Steen v. Murray

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

June 28, 2013

RICHARD " BUD" STEEN, and LLOYDENE STEEN, Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT MURRAY, Individually; LAMSON, DUGAN & MURRAY, LLP; and RYAN BOE, Defendants

For Richard " Bud" Steen, Lloydene Steen, Plaintiffs: Diana J. Vogt, SHERRETS, BRUNO LAW FIRM, Omaha, NE; James D. Sherrets, SHERRETS, BRUNO LAW FIRM, Omaha, NE; Marc S. Harding, PRO HAC VICE, HARDING LAW OFFICE, Des Moines, IA.

For Robert Murray, Individually, Ryan Boe, Defendants: Andre R. Barry, CLINE, WILLIAMS LAW FIRM - LINCOLN, Lincoln, NE; James M. Bausch, CLINE, WILLIAMS LAW FIRM - OMAHA, Omaha, NE; James W. Redmond, HEIDMAN, REDMOND LAW FIRM, Sioux City, IA; Peter J. Leo, HEIDMAN, REDMOND LAW FIRM, Sioux City, IA.

For Lamson, Dugan & Murray, LLP, Defendant: Andre R. Barry, CLINE, WILLIAMS LAW FIRM - LINCOLN, Lincoln, NE; James M. Bausch, CLINE, WILLIAMS LAW FIRM - OMAHA, Omaha, NE; Peter J. Leo, HEIDMAN, REDMOND LAW FIRM, Sioux City, IA.

OPINION

Laurie Smith Camp, Chief United States District Judge.

Page 1031

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Filing No. 41) filed by Defendants Robert Murray (" Murray" ), Ryan Boe (" Boe" ), and Lamson, Dugan & Murray, LLP (" Lamson Dugan" ) (collectively " Defendants" ). Also before the Court is the Motion

Page 1032

to Retransfer Case or Retain Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (Filing No. 47), filed by the Plaintiffs Richard " Bud" Steen and Lloydene Steen (collectively " Plaintiffs" or the " Steens" ). The parties have submitted briefs (Filing Nos. 42, 46, 48, 49, 50, and 51) in support of their respective positions. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motion to Retransfer will be denied, and Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings will be granted.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In 2003, the Defendants represented the Plaintiffs to help them avoid foreclosure on their Iowa farmland. (Filing No. 32 ¶ 10; Filing No. 33 ¶ 5; see also Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 5.) Plaintiffs allege that, at the time of the representation, neither Murray nor Boe was licensed to practice law in Iowa. (Filing No. 32 ¶ 2.) In connection with their representation of the Plaintiffs, Defendants Murray and Boe drafted a Real Estate Purchase Agreement (the " Purchase Agreement" ) between Plaintiffs and AGR-Keast. (Filing No. 33 ¶ 6; see also Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 5-9. [1] ) Boe also drafted an Option to Lease/Purchase Real Estate (" Option" ). (Filing No. 25-3 at CM/ECF pp. 27-29.) The Plaintiffs allege that at the time the Purchase Agreement and Option were drafted, Defendants also represented AGR-Keast, the purchaser. (Filing No. 32 ¶ 15.)

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants committed legal malpractice in drafting the Purchase Agreement and Option. ( See generally Filing No. 32.) Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that they retained Defendants to " draft a first option to purchase or right of first refusal" but Defendants " instead drafted an unrestricted option in favor of the purchaser of [Plaintiffs'] other property." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 10-14.) Plaintiffs further allege that they did not know Defendants were also representing the purchaser; that Defendants " included language to favor that purchaser; " and that Defendants " failed to disclose to Plaintiffs their divided loyalties." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 15-21.) Plaintiffs allege that they discovered Defendants' malpractice in October 2008. ( Id. ¶ 20.) Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants failed to exercise appropriate care, breached the parties' contract, and breached ethical duties. ( Id. at ¶ 18, 24, 26.) Plaintiffs further allege that because the Option was incorrectly drafted, they incurred significant litigation expenses. ( Id. at ¶ 17.)

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed this action on July 20, 2012, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa (Filing No. 1.) On October 4, 2012, Defendants moved to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), due to improper venue. (Filing No. 25.) Plaintiffs resisted the Motion to Transfer, arguing that a substantial part of the events giving rise to Plaintiffs' claims occurred the Southern District of Iowa and, therefore, venue was proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). The Southern District of Iowa granted the Motion, concluding that venue in Iowa was improper. That court reasoned that under controlling precedent in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, it was required to focus on the location of the Defendants'

Page 1033

alleged wrongful activities. (Filing No. 34 at 5 (citing Woodke v. Dahm, 70 F.3d 983, 985-86 (8th Cir. 1995).) The court determined that each of Defendants' alleged wrongful acts or omissions took place in Nebraska, and Plaintiffs failed to ...


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