A single defendant’s presence 300 miles from the transferor venue, though in the same state, is not sufficient to preclude transfer.
The district court for the Eastern District of Texas denied petitioners’ motion to transfer venue to the Northern District of California. The petitioners sought a writ of mandamus directing the district court to vacate this decision, which the Federal Circuit granted.
The petitioners sought a transfer of venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which authorizes transfer “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.” The court analyzed several factors under Fifth Circuit law. Notably, all of the U.S.-based companies in the case except one were headquartered in California, including six within the Northern District of California. No party was headquartered in the Eastern District of Texas. “[T]he combination of multiple parties being headquartered in or near the transferee venue and no party or witness in the plaintiff’s chosen forum is an important consideration.” Also, the convenience of witnesses, the venue’s ability to compel testimony, and the location of sources of proof all favored transfer. Lastly, the local interest favored transfer because both the company asserting harm and many of the companies alleged to have caused that harm were residents of the Northern District of California. “While the sale of an accused product offered nationwide does not give rise to a substantial interest in any single venue, if there are significant connections between a particular venue and the events that gave rise to a suit, this factor is weighed in that venue’s favor.”
No factor favored denial of the motion to transfer venue. The fact that one defendant was headquartered in Texas was not enough to outweigh all other factors, especially when those headquarters were 300 miles from the Eastern District of Texas. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion and the court granted the petition for a writ of mandamus.
A copy of the opinion can be found here.