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Endeavor Meshtech, Inc. v. Aclara Technologies LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 25, 2015

ENDEAVOR MESHTECH, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ACLARA TECHNOLOGIES LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GREGORY M. SLEET, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On September 27, 2013, the plaintiff Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. ("Endeavor") initiated the instant action against Aclara Technologies LLC ("Aclara"). (D.I. 1.) Endeavor alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7, 379, 981 ("the '981 Patent"). (Id. ) Presently before the court is Aclara's Motion to Transfer this action to the Eastern District of Missouri, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (D.I. 10.) For the reasons that follow, the court will grant Aclara's Motion to Transfer.

II. BACKGROUND

Endeavor is incorporated under the laws of Delaware. (D.I. 1, ¶ 2.) At the time the complaint was filed, Endeavor's principal place of business was located in Half Moon Bay, California (Id. ), although Endeavor's briefing addressing the instant motion identified its current principal place of business as New York, New York. (D.I. 18, Ex. C.) Endeavor is the owner of the '981 Patent. (D.I. 1, ¶ 2.) Aclara is a limited liability company organized under the laws of Ohio, with its principal place of business in Hazelwood, Missouri. (Id. ¶ 3.)

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court has "broad discretion to determine, on an individualized, case-by-case basis, whether the convenience and fairness considerations weigh in favor of transfer."[1] Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 883 (3d Cir. 1995). The court engages in a two-step inquiry. First, the court must determine whether the action could have originally been brought in the proposed transferee forum. Memory Integrity, LLC v. Intel Corp., No. 13-1804-GMS, 2015 WL 632026, at *2 (D. Del. Feb. 13, 2015). If, yes, the court proceeds to the second step and asks whether transfer would "best serve the interests of justice and convenience." Id. (quoting Smart Audio Techs., LLC v. Apple, Inc., 910 F.Supp.2d 718, 724 (D. Del. 2012)). It is the defendant's responsibility to demonstrate that transfer is appropriate at each step. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-80. Guiding the court's analysis is the general principle that, "unless the balance of convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of defendant, the plaintiff's choice of forum should prevail." Memory Integrity, 2015 WL 632026, at *2 (quoting Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970)).

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Propriety of the Transferee Forum

The court may only transfer an action to a "district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The parties do not dispute that Endeavor's lawsuit could have originally been filed in the Eastern District of Missouri. As such, the court proceeds to the second step in order to analyze the relevant interests at stake.

B. Jumara Analysis

The court must consider whether transfer to the Eastern District of Missouri would serve the interests of convenience and justice. In the Third Circuit, this requires an individualized analysis, considering the various private and public interests guarded by § 1404(a). See Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. To this end, the court does not apply any "definitive formula" but, instead, considers each of these "Jumara factors" on a case-by-case basis. See id. The private interests may include:

plaintiff's forum preference as maintained in the original choice; the defendant's preference; whether the claim arose elsewhere; the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition; the convenience of the witnesses-but only to the extent that the witnesses may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora; and the location of books and records (similarly limited to the extent that the files could not be produced in the alternative forum).

Id. The public interests may include:

the enforceability of the judgment; practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive; the relative administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion; the local interest in deciding local controversies at home; the public policies of the fora; and the ...

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