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Tsan v. Seventh Generation, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 17, 2015

MAGGIE TSAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SEVENTH GENERATION, INC., Defendant.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE Re: ECF No. 18

JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Seventh Generation, Inc.'s Motion to Transfer Venue. ECF No. 18. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

On January 14, 2015, Plaintiffs Maggie Tsan and Erica Wildstein filed this putative class action on behalf of a "Nationwide Class, " a "California Class, " a "Florida Class, " and a "Multi-State Class" against Defendant Seventh Generation, Inc. ("Seventh Generation"), alleging violations of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, California False Advertising Law, California Unfair Competition Law, Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and multiple state warranty laws. ECF No. 1. Tsan is a citizen of California, residing in San Mateo County, and Wildstein is a citizen of Florida, residing in Broward County. Id. ¶¶ 13-14. Seventh Generation is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Vermont, with its principal place of business in Burlington, Vermont. Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiffs allege that Seventh Generation falsely represents that certain cleaning and personal care products are "natural, " even though they contain non-natural ingredients. Id. ¶ 3. The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Defendant's allegedly false and misleading practices, and to recover damages and restitution on behalf of the putative classes. Id.

Another matter, Rapoport-Hecht v. Seventh Generation, Inc., No. 14-cv-9087, was filed in the Southern District of New York on November 14, 2014. Declaration of Michelle Gillette, ECF No. 18-1, Ex. 1. In that action, Plaintiff Tziva Rapoport-Hecht similarly alleges that although Seventh Generation represents that certain products are "natural, " this "is in fact a material misrepresentation and deceptive business practice in violation of New York law and consumer protection statutes nationwide." Id. ¶¶ 5-6. She seeks to represent a class of all consumers in the United States who purchased the Seventh Generation products at issue. Id. ¶ 1.

On February 27, 2015, Defendant Seventh Generation filed the instant motion seeking transfer of this action to the Southern District of New York, citing the well-established "first-to-file" rule, ECF No. 18, which "allows a district court to transfer, stay, or dismiss an action when a similar complaint has already been filed in another federal court." Alltrade, Inc. v. Uniweld Products, Inc., 946 F.2d 622, 623 (9th Cir. 1991). Plaintiffs oppose the motion. ECF No. 30.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented." 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). It places "discretion in the district court 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) (quoting Van Dusen, 376 U.S. at 622).

III. DISCUSSION

In considering a motion to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. section 1404(a), the Court must first determine whether the action could have been brought in the target district. Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 343-44 (1960). "An action may not be transferred to a district where venue would have been improper if it had originally been filed there." Trend Micro Inc. v. RPost Holdings, Inc., No. 13-cv-05227-WHO, 2014 WL 1365491, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 7, 2014). A defendant's consent to the transfer is irrelevant, because the "power of a District Court under section 1404(a) to transfer an action to another district is made to depend not upon the wish or waiver of the defendant but, rather, upon whether the transferee district was one in which the action might have been brought by the plaintiff." Commercial Lighting Prods. Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 537 F.2d 1078, 1079 (9th Cir. 1976) (quoting Hoffman, 363 U.S. at 343-44) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Pursuant to the general venue statute, a civil action may be brought in:

(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located;
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or
(3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's ...

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