MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent Suarez is a seaman who was employed on the S. S. Pure Oil, owned and operated by petitioner, Pure Oil Company. Suarez brought this action against the company in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida to recover damages for personal injuries allegedly suffered in the course of his employment. He sued in negligence under the Jones Act, 41 Stat. 1007, 46 U. S. C. § 688 (1964 ed.), and alternatively on the theory that the vessel was unseaworthy. The Pure Oil Company moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of Illinois on the ground that venue was improper in Florida. The District Court
The Jones Act, which ultimately governs the venue issue before us,
Preliminarily it should be noted that although this provision is framed in jurisdictional terms, the Court has held that it refers only to venue, Panama R. Co. v. Johnson, 264 U.S. 375. It is conceded that as enacted and originally interpreted the statute would not authorize Florida venue in this instance, for corporate residence traditionally meant place of incorporation, in this case Ohio, and Pure Oil's principal office is in Illinois. The Court of Appeals held, however, that residence had been redefined by the expanded general venue statute,
If this definition of residence is applicable to the Jones Act venue provision, it is conceded that the action was properly brought in Florida, where Pure Oil has transacted a substantial amount of business. We hold that this definition does so apply and that venue in Florida was proper.
The effect of § 1391 (c) was to broaden the general venue requirements in actions against corporations by providing a forum in any judicial district in which the corporate defendant "is doing business." See Moore, Commentary on the Judicial Code 193-194 (1949); 1 Barron & Holtzoff, Federal Practice and Procedure § 80, at 386 (Wright rev. 1960). It seems manifest that this change was made in order to bring venue law in tune with modern concepts of corporate operations.
This view of § 1391 (c) is basically consistent with the purposes and language of the Jones Act, whose thrust was not primarily directed at venue, but rather at giving seamen substantive rights and a federal forum for their vindication. In so doing, it provided a more generous choice of forum than would have been available at that time under the general venue statute. Compare Act of March 3, 1911, c. 231, §§ 50, 51, 36 Stat. 1101. Though one aspect of the special venue provision was phrased in terms of "residence," which as applied to a corporate employer was then generally understood to mean the place of incorporation, see In re Keasbey & Mattison Co., 160 U.S. 221, 229, the statute also permitted suit in the district where the principal office of the employer was located. See p. 203, supra. Moreover, there is nothing in the legislative history of this provision of the Jones Act
First, the patent venue section at issue in Fourco was itself revised in 1948
The Jones Act venue provision presents quite a different history. As a minor provision in a major substantive enactment, no particular attention was directed to its terms; indeed, the venue provision was first presented in the report of the House-Senate Conference Committee, see H. R. Rep. No. 1107, 66th Cong., 2d Sess., 19-20 (1920), and was apparently never discussed in committee reports or on the floor of either House. Thus, it is unlikely that the Congress meant to infuse the concept of corporate residence with any special meaning that should remain impervious to changes in standards effected by more general venue statutes. Moreover, it can be said with reasonable certainty that the provision was intended to liberalize venue, see supra, p. 205, unlike the patent infringement rule which was meant to constrict it. We conclude that here, in contrast to the situation dealt with in Fourco, the basic intent of the Congress is best furthered by carrying the broader residence definition of § 1391 (c) into the Jones Act.