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Western Oilfields Supply Co. v. Goodwin

January 21, 2009

WESTERN OILFIELDS SUPPLY COMPANY D/B/A RAIN FOR RENT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JERRY W. GOODWIN, AN INDIVIDUAL D/B/A O BAR CATTLE CO., FLORA E. GOODWIN, D/B/A O BAR CATTLE CO., AND SECURITY WEST FINANCIAL COMPANY, INC., AN IDAHO CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anthony W. Ishii Chief United States District Judge

ORDER ON FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, THE RULE 19 MOTION, THE 28 U.S.C. § 1404 MOTION, AND TRANSFERRING THIS CASE TO THE DISTRICT OF NEVADA

On October 4, 2008, the Magistrate Judge issued findings and recommendations on Plaintiff's application for a writ of possession. Plaintiff seeks possession of irrigation equipment located in Nevada. Defendants objected to the findings and argued that Big Spring Ranch, L.L.C. ("Big Spring"), a Nevada entity, was a necessary third party because it has a claimed property interest in the irrigation equipment. In light of the objections by the Defendants, the Court sua sponte ordered additional briefing regarding Big Spring and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19, as well as whether this case should be transferred to the District of Nevada under 28 U.S.C. § 1404. The parties have submitted the requested briefing. For the reasons that follow, the Court will transfer this action to the District of Nevada and will not rule on the Rule 19 issue or the findings and recommendations.

BACKGROUND

This case arises from a transaction for the acquisition of irrigation equipment. Defendant Jerry Goodwin ("Goodwin") executed an Application for Credit, Master Rental Agreement, Sales Agreement (hereinafter the "Agreement") with Plaintiff. See Complaint at ¶ 9. Among other things, the Agreement prohibits Goodwin from encumbering or allowing others to use or possess the irrigation equipment, states that Plaintiff owns the equipment until it is paid for, and gives Plaintiff the right to repossess the equipment if Goodwin defaults. See November 17, 2008, Bastian Declaration Exhibit A. The Agreement was negotiated and signed in Utah. See November 10, 2008, Goodwin Declaration at ¶¶ 4-5. Months after signing the Agreement, Goodwin obtained approval for an equipment lease from Larry Wardle of Security West Financial Company, Inc. ("Security West"). See Complaint at ¶ 10. This approval commits Security West to ensure payment for irrigation equipment invoices up to $550,000. In February 2007, Defendants' lease broker purchased irrigation equipment. See id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiff states that this equipment was paid for in April 2007. See id. After ordering this equipment, Goodwin received approval for an additional $83,000 equipment lease from Security West. See id. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff contends that, between December 31, 2006, and September 30, 2007, it supplied miscellaneous parts and equipment directly to Defendants. See id. at ¶ 14. However, Plaintiff contends that neither Defendants nor Security West paid the invoices for the irrigation equipment and that a balance of approximately $392,000 is owed and outstanding.

The irrigation equipment was purchased for use on the Big Spring Ranch ("the Ranch"), which is located near Wendover, Nevada, in Elko County. See Complaint at ¶ 17; November 10, 2008, Goodwin Declaration at ¶ 2. Although Defendants reside in Utah, Goodwin is a cattle rancher who works and raises crops/livestock on the Ranch in Nevada. See November 10, 2008 Goowdwin Declaration at ¶ 7. Goodwin is a lessee of the Ranch, and the owner of the Ranch is Big Spring. See Koroghli Declaration at ¶ 2. In April 2007, Big Spring and Goodwin executed an amendment to their lease agreement which sought to clarify that the irrigation equipment that had been obtained by Goodwin and installed on the Ranch was to be considered a fixture, and that Big Spring was to be considered the owner of the irrigation equipment "from inception."

See id. at ¶¶ 2, 4. The irrigation equipment that was supplied to Goodwin and installed by Plaintiff is located at the Ranch in Nevada. See Complaint at ¶ 34; Koroghli Declaration at ¶¶ 5-7; July 22, 2008, Goodwin Declaration at ¶ 10.

In October 2007, Plaintiff filed a UCC Financing Statement and filed an amended Financing Statement in December 2007. See Complaint at ¶ 35. On December 20, 2007, Defendants filed this lawsuit. On May 21, 2008, Plaintiffs demanded access to and possession of the equipment, but Defendants refused. See Court's Docket Doc. No. 40 at p. 2. Plaintiff then filed a writ of possession, and the additional briefing ensued.

LEGAL STANDARD

28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides:

"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). This statute partially displaces the common law doctrine of forum non conveniens. See Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986); Miskow v. Boeing Co., 664 F.2d 205, 207 (9th Cir. 1981). The purpose of § 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." Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964); Kawamoto v. C.B. Richard Ellis, Inc., 225 F.Supp.2d 1209, 1213 (D. Haw. 2002). "Section 1404(a) is intended to place discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an 'individualized, cases by case consideration of convenience and fairness.'" Stewart Organization, Inc. v. RICOH Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (quoting Van Dusen, 376 U.S. at 622).

In order to transfer a case under § 1404(a), the "defendant must make a strong showing of inconvenience to warrant upsetting the plaintiff's choice of forum." See Decker, 805 F.2d at 843. The district court must weigh numerous factors when deciding whether to transfer a case under § 1404(a):

A motion to transfer venue under § 1404(a) requires the court to weigh multiple factors in its determination whether transfer is appropriate in a particular case. For example, the court may consider: (1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (4) the respective parties' contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiff's cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof. Additionally, the presence of a forum selection clause is a "significant factor" in the courtss § 1404(a) analysis . . . [and] the relevant public policy of the forum state, if any, is at least as significant a factor in the § 1404(a) balancing.

Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 2000). The Court may also consider the convenience of parties and witnesses, feasability of consolidation of other claims, local interest in the controversy, and the court congestion of the two ...


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