United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER RE:
DKT. NO. 21
J. DAVILA United States District Judge.
Gupta (“Plaintiff”) brings this action for
alleged wage and hour violations under the Immigration and
Nationality Act (“INA”) against Wipro Limited,
Azim Hashim Premji, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E.
Perez (collectively, “Defendants”).
Presently before the court is Wipro Limited and Azim Hashim
Premji's Motion to Transfer this case to the District of
New Jersey pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Dkt. No. 21
(“Mot.”). Federal Defendant, Secretary of United
States Department of Labor, sued here in his official
capacity, joins Wipro's Motion. Dkt. No. 31. Plaintiff
opposes the Motion. Dkt. No. 36 (“Opp.”). Federal
jurisdiction arises pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331
and 1332. Finding this matter suitable for decision without
oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the
hearing scheduled for March 30, 2017 is hereby VACATED.
court previously granted the same defendants' motions to
transfer in a nearly identical action filed by Plaintiff in
2014, Gupta v. Perez, No. 5:14-cv-01102-HRL, Dkt.
No. 35. In May and June 2009, Gupta filed complaints with the
Department of Labor's (“DOL”) Wage and Hour
Division in San Francisco, California, alleging that Wipro
took unauthorized deductions from his wages and those of
other nonimmigrant employees. Compl. ¶¶ 41, 92.
Soon thereafter, Plaintiff's case was reassigned to New
Jersey at his request. Opp. ¶ 17; see Compl.
¶¶ 240-241, 288-290; Gupta v. Perez, No.
3:14-cv-04054-FLW (D.N.J.), Dkt. No. 70. The Administrator in
New Jersey found no reasonable cause to investigate
Plaintiff's complaint. See id. ¶¶
92-101, 240-241. Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), who held
“that summary decision in favor of the Administrator is
appropriate” and dismissed the complaint. See
id. ¶¶ 95-101. Plaintiff then filed a petition
for review with the Administrative Review Board
(“ARB”), which ultimately affirmed the ALJ's
decision. Id. ¶ 101.
March 2014, Plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit in this court
against Wipro and the Secretary of Labor. See id.
¶ 102; Gupta v. Perez, No. 5:14-cv-01102-HRL,
Dkt. No. 1. Finding no meaningful connection to California,
this court transferred the case to the United States District
Court for the District of New Jersey, where it was fully
adjudicated and summary judgment was granted in favor of
Defendants. Compl. ¶ 104; see Gupta v. Perez,
101 F.Supp.3d 437 (D.N.J. 2015). The Third Circuit affirmed
the district court's decision on appeal, holding that no
private right of action exists for violations of 8 U.S.C.
§ 1182(n). Compl. ¶ 106; Gupta v. Sec'y
U.S. Dep't of Labor, 649 F. App'x 119, 122 (3d
Cir. 2016). Dissatisfied with the unfavorable rulings in New
Jersey, Plaintiff returned to this district and filed a
motion for relief from this court's transfer order and
requested the court reopen his case here. See Compl.
¶ 108; No. 5:14-cv-01102-HRL, Dkt. No. 36. The motion
was denied on August 31, 2016 (No. 5:14-cv-01102-HRL, Dkt.
No. 43), and Plaintiff filed the operative Complaint in this
action two weeks later on September 15, 2016.
before this court for the second time, Plaintiff seeks to
reassert many of the same claims, against the same
Defendants, arising from essentially the same operative
facts. After carefully considering Plaintiff's new
Complaint and the papers submitted by the Parties in this
matter, the court finds, concludes, and orders as follows:
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1404(a), a district court may transfer
a 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 if such a transfer is
convenient to the parties and witnesses. 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a); see Hatch v. Reliance Ins. Co., 758 F.2d
409, 414 (9th Cir. 1985). The purpose of section 1404 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).
determine whether transfer is appropriate, the court first
examines whether the action could have been brought in the
district to which transfer is sought. See Hatch, 758
F.2d at 414 (“In determining whether an action might
have been brought in a district, the court looks to whether
the action initially could have been commenced in that
district.” (internal quotations and citations
omitted)). An action may be commenced in any district where
(1) the court has subject matter jurisdiction over the claims
at issue; (2) the court has personal jurisdiction over the
defendant; and (3) venue is proper. Hoffman v.
Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 343-44 (1960). If the proposed
district is a viable one, the court then goes through an
“individualized, case-by-case consideration of
convenience and fairness” to determine whether such
interests and the interest of justice favor transfer. Van
Dusen, 376 U.S. at 622.
addition to the convenience considerations enumerated by
§ 1404(a), the Ninth Circuit has identified other
fairness factors that should be weighed by the court when
considering a transfer: “(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.” Jones v.
GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir.
“No single factor is dispositive, and a district court
has broad discretion to adjudicate motions for transfer on a
case-by-case basis.” Ctr. for Biological Diversity
v. Kempthorne, No. 08-1339, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84978,
at *8, 2008 WL 4543043 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 10, 2008) (citing
Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29
(1988); Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., Inc., 864
F.2d 635, 639 (9th Cir. 1988)). A transfer may not be
appropriate under § 1404(a) if it “would merely
shift rather than eliminate the inconvenience.”
Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d
834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986). The party moving for transfer of a
case bears the burden of demonstrating transfer is
appropriate. See Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v.
Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 279 (9th Cir. 1979)), opinion
modified, 828 F.2d 1445 (9th Cir. 1987).
civil action may be brought in “a judicial district in
which any defendant resides” or “a judicial
district in which a substantial part of the events or
omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1391(b)(1), (2). For venue purposes, a defendant
corporation shall be deemed to reside “in any judicial
district in which such defendant is subject to the
court's personal jurisdiction, ” and if the
defendant does not reside in the United States, the defendant
“may be sued in any judicial district”). 28
U.S.C. § 1391(c)(2), (c)(3).
Here, as to whether this action could have been brought in
the District of New Jersey, the court observes that Wipro is
a global information technology company headquartered in
India, with its primary base of United States operations in
East Brunswick, New Jersey. Decl. of Monica Rodrigues
(“Rodrigues Decl.”) ¶ 2, Dkt. No. 21-2.
Wipro is therefore deemed to be a resident of New Jersey, and
venue would be proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391,
subsection (b) and (c). Plaintiff argues that this action
cannot be brought in New Jersey because in his prior case,
the New Jersey District Court ruled - and the Third Circuit
affirmed - that it “lacked jurisdiction” to
adjudicate Plaintiff's claims brought under the INA. Opp.
at 8-9. Based on those rulings, Plaintiff concludes that the
case “cannot be brought in the District Court of New
Jersey” and that this court is the only proper forum
for the adjudication of his claims. Id. However,
Plaintiff misunderstands the implications of the district
court's order with respect to the relevant jurisdictional
and venue requirements. The legal findings of the District
Court in the prior action were not forum-specific and do not
impact whether this action could have appropriately commenced
in New Jersey. Rather, because the New Jersey District Court
would have subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
claims, personal jurisdiction over Wipro, and because venue
is proper, the action could have been brought in that
district. See Blaski, 363 U.S. at 343-44.
Looking next to which forum is more convenient for the
parties and relevant witnesses, Plaintiff first contends that
litigating in New Jersey will be “highly
inconvenient” for him because the New Jersey federal
courts purportedly do not grant e-filing privileges to pro se
litigants. Opp. at 9. Even if true, this is insufficient to
show that Plaintiff's access to the courts will be
seriously prejudiced. See 5:14-cv-01102-HRL, Dkt.
No. 35 at 6 (rejecting this same argument in Plaintiff's
Plaintiff asserts that he intends to call witnesses who
either work or reside in California and who will be
inconvenienced if the action is transferred to New Jersey.
Opp. at pp. 8-9. In support of this, Plaintiff submits
“Exhibit PX-13” (Dkt. No. 36-2), which he
contends is “[a] list of Wipro's Mountain View, CA
office employees… who may be called as Plaintiff's
witness(es).” Opp. at 9. However, of the individuals
that are listed as working in California, Plaintiff provides
no explanation as to who they are, what their anticipated
testimony would be, or how such testimony would be relevant
to this case. See Gherebi v. Bush, 352 F.3d 1278,
1304 n. 33 (9th Cir. 2003)); see also Saperstein v.
Dumont Aircraft Sales, LLC, 2016 WL 4241933, at *5 (N.D.
Cal. Aug. 11, 2016 (“In determining whether the
convenience of the witnesses favor transfer, courts consider
not only how many witnesses each side has and the location of
those witnesses, but also the importance of the
witnesses”). Plaintiff's assertion that these
individuals are relevant witnesses is also inconsistent with
his prior representations in these proceedings that no such
witnesses existed in California. In sum, the court finds no
evidence that the individuals identified in “Exhibit
PX-13” are materially connected to this case in any
record demonstrates that Plaintiff does not work, nor has he
ever worked, in California. Plaintiff's job duties had no
meaningful connection to California, and none of the
underlying facts applicable to Plaintiff's claims
occurred in California. In contrast, the administrative and
judicial proceedings germane to this case all occurred in New
Jersey. Although Wipro does not identify specific New Jersey
witnesses relevant to this action, the court agrees with
Defendants that, to the extent any will be needed, the
majority of pertinent witnesses will be located in or closer
to New Jersey, where ...