Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

IN RE FUNERAL CONSUMERS ANTITRUST LITIGATION

September 23, 2005.

IN RE FUNERAL CONSUMERS Antitrust Litigation.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM ALSUP, District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER

INTRODUCTION

In these antitrust cases, defendants jointly have moved under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) to transfer venue to the Southern District of Texas. Defendants have carried their burden of proving that the convenience of parties and witnesses, and the interest of justice, would clearly and substantially be improved by such a transfer. The motion is therefore GRANTED.

  STATEMENT

  The complaint in the first of these cases was filed May 2, 2005. Certain plaintiffs, a consumers group and individual consumers, purchased caskets and other funeral-industry products and services. Another plaintiff, Pioneer Valley Casket Co, Inc., is an independent, low-cost casket seller. Defendants are funeral-home chains, a casket manufacturer and its parent company. Plaintiffs accuse defendants of violating Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1-2, and the California Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200-210. The consumers group, Funeral Consumers Alliance, Inc., and the individual consumers, sue on behalf of a putative nationwide class of consumers who bought Batesville caskets from the funeral-home co-defendants, Service Corporation International (SCI), Alderwoods Group, Inc., and Stewart Enterprises, Inc. Pioneer Valley sues on behalf of a putative nationwide class of independent casket retailers. Specifically, plaintiffs claim defendants

 
• conspired through a group boycott to prevent independent casket retailers from selling caskets marketed under the Batesville brand and others,
• engaged in a campaign of disparagement against independent casket retailers and their wares, and
• jointly worked to restrict casket price competition and to coordinate casket pricing by restricting or preventing price advertising, sharing price information and promoting "sham" discounting.
On August 2, 2005, defendants jointly moved under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) to transfer these cases (collectively, "In re Funeral Consumers Antitrust Litigation") to the Southern District of Texas. This motion applies to the following of cases, described here by plaintiff name and case number: FCA (No. C 05-01804 WHA), Rocha (No. C 05-02501 WHA), Berger, (No. C 05-02502 WHA), Magsarili (No. C 05-02792 WHA), and Pioneer Valley (No. C 05-02806 WHA).

  ANALYSIS

  1. VENUE TRANSFER RULES.

  "For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. 1404(a). The section's purpose is "to prevent the waste of time, energy and money and to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense." Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964) (internal quotation marks omitted). A district court has discretion "to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness." Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (citation omitted). A court must "balance the preference accorded plaintiff's choice of forum with the burden of litigating in an inconvenient forum." Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986).

  In weighing each case, a court also should consider:
(1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof, (2) availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling witnesses, (3) the cost of obtaining attendance of willing witnesses, (4) the possibility of view of premises, if appropriate to the action, (5) all other issues related to making a trial easy, expeditious and inexpensive, (6) the relative congestion of the two courts, (7) the local interest in having localized controversies decided at home, (8) the interest in having the trial of a diversity case in a forum that is at home with the law that must govern the action, (9) avoidance of unnecessary problems in conflict of laws, or in the application of foreign law, and (10) the unfairness of burdening citizens in an unrelated forum with jury duty, (11) the location where relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (12) the respective parties' contacts with the forums, (13) contacts relating to the plaintiff's causes of action in the chosen forum, and (14) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums.
Ibid.; Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 2000).

  2. ACTION COULD HAVE BEEN BROUGHT IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS.

  There is no dispute that plaintiffs could have brought this action either here or in the Southern District of Texas. The unfair competition claim could have been brought in any court of competent jurisdiction, although this does not mean the California law reaches extra-territorial conduct. See Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17203. Antitrust venue may be laid in any district in which a corporate defendant "may be found or transacts business." 15 U.S.C. 22. That means that large corporations are subject to suit in virtually every corner of the country, given their commonly wide scope of operations these days. Such breadth of operations provokes motions such as the present one to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a).

  The Court finds that venue would have been proper in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. It would have had jurisdiction over the federal antitrust actions under 28 U.S.C. 1331 and supplemental ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.