United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS ON
THE GROUNDS OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DOCKET NOS. 53, 64,
M. CHEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
parties are in the film industry. Defendants are Lotus Five
Star, LTD (“Lotus”), Leo India Films, LTD
(“Leo”), and Arun Shanmuganathan (collectively,
the “Defendants”). Plaintiffs are Cinematix, LLC,
AP International, Home Screen Entertainment, FZE, Home Screen
Entertainment, PTE. Ltd. (collectively, the
“Plaintiffs”). Plaintiffs' first amended
complaint (“FAC”) alleges copyright infringement
based on Defendants' streaming websites. Docket No. 44.
Pending before the Court are Lotus and Shanmuganathan's
motion to dismiss the FAC on the grounds of (1) lack of
personal jurisdiction; (2) insufficient service of process;
and (3) forum non conveniens. Docket Nos. 53. The
second motion to dismiss was filed by Leo; it only moves for
dismissal on forum non conveniens. Docket No. 64.
Also pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion to
strike Leo's reply brief because it contains evidentiary
objections. Docket No. 73.
reasons discussed below, Defendants' motions to dismiss
on forum non conveniens grounds are
GRANTED because Defendants identified an
adequate alternative forum (e.g., Canada) and the
public and private factors heavily favor litigating this
dispute in Canada. However, this decision is conditioned on
Defendants accepting service of process in Canada.
are companies that “distribute, sell, publicly perform
and display, and license a significant portion of all
legitimate Tamil-language motion pictures in this country and
across the globe.” TAC ¶ 1. According to
Plaintiffs, Defendants own and operate websites that “are
dedicated to the piracy of copyrighted motion
pictures.” Id. ¶ 3. These websites
“upload, store, host, disseminate, distribute, sell,
publicly perform and display, and otherwise illegally make
available copyrighted motion pictures from their servers . .
. .” Id.
Einthusan websites were created in 2011 by a Canadian company
called Paperboard Innovations, and the websites were
eventually sold to Lotus. Docket No. 53 (“Mot.”)
at 2. Lotus contends that it secured licenses for each of the
films in its library. Id. In 2017, Lotus sold its
brand name and trademarks (e.g., the
“Einthusan” name) to Leo. Id.
the parties are domiciled in California or have their
principle place of business in California. Lotus and Leo are
Canadian limited liability companies that have their
principle place of business in Toronto, Canada. Mot. at 1;
Docket No. 64 (“Leo Mot.”) at 1. Mr.
Shanmuganathan is a resident of Sri Lanka, but occasionally
travels to Canada. Mot. at 1. Plaintiff Cinematix is the only
United States entity, and it is located in the state of
Washington. Mot. at 22. The remaining plaintiffs are foreign
to the United States. Id.
filed this action in May 2019. Docket No. 1. After failed
attempts to serve Defendants, Plaintiffs moved for permission
to effectuate service of process on Defendants by alternative
means (e-mail) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 4. Docket No. 8.
Judge Corley granted Plaintiffs' motion. Docket No. 14.
Thereafter, Defendants specially appeared and filed motions
to dismiss. Docket Nos. 27-30. Plaintiffs amended their
complaint as of right, Docket No. 44, and Defendants withdrew
those motions. Docket No. 51. Lotus and Mr. Shanmuganathan
specially appeared again and filed their current motion to
dismiss. At this time, Leo had not yet been served with the
FAC. Once Leo received service, it filed its motion to
moving to dismiss based on forum non conveniens
bears the burden of showing that (1) there is an adequate
alternative forum, and (2) the balance of private and public
interest factors favors dismissal. See Lueck v.
Sundstrand Corp., 236 F.3d 1137, 1142-43 (9th Cir.
2001). A domestic plaintiffs forum choice is entitled to
considerable deference, whereas a foreign plaintiffs forum
choice is entitled to less deference. Ravelo Monegro v.
Rosa, 211 F.3d 509, 513 (9th Cir.2000) (citing Piper
Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 256 (1981)). The
plaintiffs choice of forum will not be disturbed unless the
private and public interest factors strongly favor trial in
the foreign country. See Gates Learjet Corp. v.
Jensen, 743 F.2d 1325, 1334 (9th Cir. 1984).
Adequate Alternative Forum
are amenable to service in Canada. Mot. at 20. Plaintiffs
argue that Shanmuganathan is only “agreeable” to
service in Canada. Docket No. 58 (“Opp.”) at 18.
Based on this, Plaintiffs suspect that Defendants will avoid
service in Canada if this Court dismisses the case on
forum non conveniens grounds because Plaintiffs have
requested Defendants' Canadian addresses but have ...