The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE AND
TRANSFERRING ACTION TO THE DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
On May 14, 2004, this Court heard argument on defendants' motion to
transfer venue. Having carefully considered the arguments of the parties
and the papers submitted, the Court hereby GRANTS defendants' motion and
transfers the case to the United States District Court for the District
of Minnesota. Reasons for the Court's decision are set forth below.
This lawsuit arises out of the parties' relationships to each other
concerning events which occurred in Minnesota. Plaintiff Geo. M. Martin
Company (Martin) manufactures corrugated stackers for use in the paper
processing industry. Plaintiff Gary Forde (Forde) suffered an industrial
injury in 1999 in Minnesota while using a Martin stacker, and Forde sued
Martin in 2000 in Minnesota as a result (the underlying action). At the
time of the injury, defendant Royal Insurance Company of America (Royal)
was Martin's excess liability insurance carrier. In March 2002, "[b]efore
trial, Forde entered what is known in Minnesota as a `Loy-Teigen'
agreement, whereby he accepted the limits of Martin's primary insurance
and agreed to limit his recovery at trial to the limits of Martin's
excess coverage with Royal-515 million." Motion at 1, 3. Plaintiffs
allege that "[a]s the case proceeded toward trial, Forde again offered to
settle with Martin for an amount within Royal's policy limit, but Royal
refused to settle." Oppo. at 2.
After trial in Minnesota, the jury assessed Fordes' compensatory
damages at $35 million. Id Royal paid its policy limit of $15 million in
accord withe the Loy-Teigen agreement. Although "Forde had waived any
damages in excess of Royal's policy limits, Martin voluntarily paid him
another $5 million to avoid further litigation." Motion at 2.
In the instant lawsuit, Forde and Martin allege that "Royal wrongfully
failed to settle the underlying action within its $15 million excess
policy limit." Motion at 2. Forde sues as an assignee of Martin's
insurance claim. Id Despite the existence of the Loy-Teigen settlement
agreement, Forde alleges that he is entitled to $19 million, while Martin
alleges that it is entitled to $5 million. Id. Now before the
Court is Royal's motion to transfer the action to the United States
District Court for the District for Minnesota.
"For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, a district court may transfer any civil matter to any other
district or division where it might have been brought."
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The purpose of section 1404(a) is to "`prevent
the waste of time, energy, and money' and `to protect litigants,
witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.'"
VanDusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616,
84 S.Ct. 805, 809 (1964). citing
Continental Grain Co. v. The FBL-585, 364 U.S. 19, 26-27, 80 So.
Ct. 1470, 1474-75 (1960). A motion for transfer lies within the broad
discretion of the district court, and must be determined on an
individualized basis. See Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc.,
211 F.3d 495, 498 (9th Cir. 20001 citing Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh
Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29, 108 S.Ct. 2239, 2244 (1988).
To support a motion for transfer, the moving party must establish: (1)
that venue is proper in the transferor district; (2) that the transferee
district is one where the action might have been brought; and (3) that
the transfer will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and
will promote the interests of justice. See Goodyear Tire &
Rubber Co. v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 820 F. Supp. 503, 506 (C.D.
Cal. 1992). In determining the convenience of the parties and witnesses
and the interests of justice, courts in this district have recently
considered the following factors: (1) plaintiff's choice of forum, (2) convenience
of the parties, (3) convenience of the witnesses,
(4) ease of access to the evidence, (5)
familiarity of each forum with the applicable law,
(6) feasibility of consolidation of other claims,
(7) any local interest in the controversy, and (8)
the relative court congestion and time of trial in
Williams v. Bowman. 157 F. Supp.2d 1103, 1106 (N.D. Cal.
2001). citing Queentex Enterprises, Inc. v. Sara Lee Corp.,
2000 WL 246599 at *2 (N.D. Cal. 2000) (additional citation omitted).
As the Williams court noted, this "list does not exhaust the
possibilities." Id. See. e.g. Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth
Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986); Jones, 211
F.3d at 498-99. Like the Williams court, this Court finds that
the Queentex test "comports with the text of section 1404(a)
and Ninth Circuit precedent." Williams, at 1106.*fn1
On a motion to transfer, the moving party must first demonstrate that
venue is proper in both the transferor and transferee courts, as required
by the first two components of the Goodyear test. Thereafter,
the court uses the multi-factor determination set forth in
Queentex to establish the third element of Goodyear:
convenience to the parties and witnesses, and the interests of justice.
No party contests the fact that this action could have been brought in
Minnesota. As explained below, this Court finds that the balance of
factors weighs in favor of transfer.
1. Plaintiff's choice of forum
Generally, a court affords a plaintiff's choice of forum "substantial
weight." Williams. 157 F. Supp.2d at 1106 (citation omitted).
However, a court will substantially reduce its deference to a plaintiff's
choice of forum when the plaintiff does not reside in the venue or when
the forum lacks a significant connection to the activities alleged in the
complaint, Id. Finally, "[i]f there is any indication that