Short Summary: Denial of motion to transfer vacated and remanded.

Case: In Re Toyota Motor Corp., No. 2013-113 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 3, 2014) (precedential). On appeal from E.D. Tex. Before Prost, O’Malley, and Taranto.

Procedural Posture: Defendants petitioned for a writ of mandamus regarding denial of their motions to transfer the suits against all but one defendant to the Eastern District of Michigan and sever and stay the suits against the remaining defendant. CAFC vacated and remanded.

  • Forum: The Toyota defendants were entitled to have the suits transferred to Michigan pending the district court’s determination on remand that the suits against distributor Gulf States Toyota (which did not have sufficient contacts to the transferor’s forum) should be severed and stayed. The district court abused its discretion, because the law does not require that transferee forum be “far more convenient” than the transferor forum. In this case, the district court found “no factor favoring retention of the claims against Toyota in the Eastern District of Texas” and several factors favoring “transfer to the Eastern District of Michigan.” Moreover, the district court incorrectly found that two additional factors – the availability of compulsory process to secure attendance of witnesses and the cost of attendance for willing witnesses – are neutral regarding transfer. Under these facts, and because the Eastern District of Michigan was home to several prior cases involving patents in the same family with many issued opinions, “the district court’s no-transfer conclusion was a clear abuse of discretion.” On remand, the district court must rule on defendants’ remaining motions to sever claims between defendants and stay the retained action against the single remaining defendant.