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Gandara v. Nestle Purina Petcare Co.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 3, 2013

ROSALINDA M. GANDARA, Plaintiff,
v.
NESTLE PURINA PETCARE COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE TO THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS [DOC. 9]

M. JAMES LORENZ, District Judge.

On March 4, 2013, Defendants Nestle Purina PetCare Company ("Purina") and Waggin' Train, LLC filed a motion to transfer this action to the Northern District of Illinois under to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Plaintiff Rosalinda M. Gandara opposes.

The Court found this motion suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument in accordance with Civil Local Rule 7.1(d.1). (Doc. 16.) For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to transfer this action to the Northern District of Illinois.

I. BACKGROUND

This is a consumer class action. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff is a resident of California. ( Id. ¶ 3.) Purina is a Missouri corporation with its principle place of business in St. Louis, Missouri. ( Id. ¶ 4.) Waggin' Train is a Delaware limited liability company with its principle place of business in St. Louis, Missouri, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Purina. ( Id. ¶ 5.) Defendants market and sell Waggin' Train® brand chicken jerky dog treats (hereinafter, "Chicken Jerky Treats") allegedly containing illegal antibiotics in the State of California. ( Id. ¶ 8.)

Plaintiff had been purchasing the Chicken Jerky Treats for the past four years in Wal-Mart stores located in San Diego County. (Compl. ¶ 10.) The United States Federal Drug Administration ("FDA") investigated reports of dogs suffering from several maladies after consuming Chicken Jerky Treats and found that the products contained residue from antibiotics that Plaintiff believes cannot be sold without a prescription from a veterinarian. ( Id. ¶ 12.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that some of these antibiotics are "not approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in food animals[.]" ( Id. ) According to Plaintiff, she "suffered injury in fact by losing money as the result of her purchase of Waggin' Train® brand Chicken Jerky Products, which she would have not purchased had she known that they contained illegal antibiotics." ( Id. ¶ 3.)

On January 25, 2013, Plaintiff initiated this action in the San Diego Superior Court. In her complaint, she alleges two causes of action: (1) Violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA"), California Civil Code § 1750; and (2) Violation of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), California Business and Professions Code § 17200. On February 28, 2013, Defendants removed the action to this Court.

Defendants move to transfer this action to the United States District Court for Northern District of Illinois under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) where a consolidated, earlier-filed putative class litigation is pending. Plaintiff opposes.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Section 1404(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code provides that even when venue is proper, the court has discretion to transfer an action "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, ... to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The purpose of this section 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) (quoting Cont'l Grain Co. v. Barge F.B.L.-585, 364 U.S. 19, 26-27 (1960)). The party requesting the transfer bears the burden of showing that the balance of conveniences weighs heavily in favor of the transfer in order to overcome the strong presumption in favor of the plaintiff's choice of forum. Piper Aircraft v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255-56 (1981); Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986).

To support a motion to transfer under § 1404(a), the moving party must first show the proposed transferee court possesses subject matter jurisdiction over the action, the parties would be subject to personal jurisdiction in the transferee court, and venue would have been proper in the transferee court. Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 344 (1960); A.J. Indus., Inc. v. United States Dist. Ct. for the Cent. Dist. of Cal., 503 F.2d 384, 386 (9th Cir. 1974). Once this threshold requirement has been established, the Court next looks at whether the convenience of parties and witnesses, and the interests of justice favor transfer. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In the Ninth Circuit, courts weigh several considerations when determining whether transfer is appropriate: (1) plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) convenience of the parties; (3) convenience of the witnesses and availability of compulsory process; (4) ease of access to the evidence; (5) feasibility of consolidation of other claims; (6) familiarity of each forum with the applicable law; (7) any local interest in the controversy; and (8) the relative court congestion and time to trial in each forum. Decker Coal, 805 F.2d at 843; see Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 928 (2000).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff does not contest whether this action could have initially been brought in the Northern District of Illinois, nor is there a dispute over subject matter jurisdiction and whether the parties would be subject to personal jurisdiction in the transferee court. Thus, Defendants readily satisfy the threshold requirement of showing that the action could have been originally brought in the Northern District of Illinois. See Hoffman, 363 U.S. at 344; A.J. Indus., 503 F.2d at 386.

Defendants instead begin by arguing that the transfer should be granted in the interest of justice and for the convenience of the parties and witnesses. (Defs.' Mot. 11:19-19:8.) Plaintiff challenges these arguments. ...


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