United States District Court, N.D. California
DAVID W. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
GLOBAL TEL*LINK CORPORATION, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER Re: Dkt. No. 17
YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS, District Judge.
On March 20, 2015, defendant Global Tel*Link Corporation filed a motion to transfer this case to the Central District of California, where three other cases-two individual actions and one putative class action-are pending. Each accuses the same defendant of similar conduct and asserts claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 ("TCPA"). (Dkt. No. 17 ("Mot.").) Plaintiff David Martin opposed the motion. (Dkt. No. 28 ("Oppo.").) A hearing on the motion was held on April 28, 2015.
Having carefully considered the papers submitted,  the record in this case, and the arguments of counsel, and good cause shown, the Court hereby GRANTS the defendant's motion.
I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND
A. The Instant Action
The plaintiff instituted this action on December 5, 2014, seeking to represent a California class of individuals who allegedly received unauthorized calls from the defendant purportedly in violation of the TCPA. (Dkt. No. 1.) On February 13, 2015, the plaintiff filed his first amended complaint, seeking to represent a nationwide class and a California sub-class. (Dkt. No. 9 ("FAC") ¶¶ 31, 33.)
According to the operative complaint, the defendant offers "inmate calling services" to thousands of prisons nationwide, including throughout California. (FAC ¶¶ 8, 12.) Inmates allegedly initiate calls using the defendant's system. Thereafter, the automated system seeks to connect the calls and collect payments from the recipients. ( Id. ¶¶ 13-18.) The plaintiff claims he received multiple calls on his cell phone from the defendant's system and was unable to reach a live operator to prevent future calls, in violation of the TCPA. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-29.)
The plaintiff is a resident of Alameda County, California-within the Northern District. The defendant is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Virginia.
B. Related Actions
As noted above, three cases are currently pending in the Central District of California asserting TCPA claims against the same defendant based on substantially the same conduct at issue here. The two individual actions were filed before the instant action: Cohen v. Global Tel*Link Corp., No. 12-cv-05447 (" Cohen ") (filed on September 10, 2009 in California Superior Court, Los Angeles County, removed to the Central District, and currently stayed under the primary jurisdiction doctrine pending a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission regarding the defendant's petition) and Hernandez v. Global Tel*Link Corp., No. 14-cv-01536 (" Hernandez ") (filed on September 23, 2014 and currently stayed pursuant to stipulation pending action by the FCC).
The putative class action, Lee v. Global Tel*Link Corp., No. 15-cv-02495 (" Lee "), was filed on December 8, 2014 in Nevada state court, seeking to represent a national class and Nevada sub-class. Lee was subsequently removed to the District of Nevada and then transferred pursuant to stipulation to the Central District of California.
Cohen and Hernandez are currently related before Judge John F. Walter. He declined to relate Lee to the individual actions and it remains pending before Judge Otis D. Wright II.
II. LEGAL STANDARDS
The defendant brings a motion to transfer on two alternative grounds: (a) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1404(a); and (b) pursuant to the "first-to-file" rule. The legal standards for each follow.
A. Venue Transfer Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1404(a)
"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 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." Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964) (internal quotation marks omitted). Courts considering transfer engage in a two-step analysis. Courts first determine whether the action could have been brought in the target district. Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 343-44 (1960). If it could have been, courts then ...