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Intuitive Surgical, Inc. v. Auris Health, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 31, 2019

INTUITIVE SURGICAL, INC. and INTUITIVE SURGICAL OPERATIONS, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
AURIS HEALTH, INC., Defendant.

          John W. Shaw, Karen E. Keller, David M. Fry, Shaw Keller LLP, Wilmington, DE; Daralyn J. Durie, Sonal N. Mehta, Laura E. Miller, Vera Ranieri, Eneda Hoxha, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA - Attorneys for Plaintiffs

          Kelly E. Farnan, Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A., Wilmington, DE; Arturo J. González, Michael A. Jacobs, Stefani E. Shanberg, Nathan B. Sabri, Robin L. Brewer, Sabrina Larson, Morrison & Foerster LLP, San Francisco, CA; Bryan Wilson, Morrison & Foerster LLP, Palo Alto, CA - Attorneys for Defendant May 31, 2019 Wilmington, Delaware

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the motion (D.I. 14) of Defendant Auris Health, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Auris”), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), to transfer this case to the Northern District of California. (Id.). Plaintiffs Intuitive Surgical, Inc. and Intuitive Surgical Operations, Inc. (collectively, “Plaintiffs” or “Intuitive”) oppose transfer. (D.I. 26). For the reasons set forth below, Auris's motion to transfer is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The two Plaintiffs and Auris are Delaware corporations with principal places of business in California. (D.I. 1 ¶¶ 11-13). Intuitive initiated this action on August 31, 2018, alleging that Auris's Monarch Platform infringes eight of its patents. (Id. ¶ 23). The Monarch Platform is a robotic endoscope that can perform medical procedures within the lungs, “which can facilitate early detection and treatment of lung cancer.” (D.I. 18 ¶ 2). Auris moves to transfer this action to the Northern District of California where all parties are headquartered and where, it asserts, its Monarch Platform was primarily designed and developed. (D.I. 17 ¶¶ 3, 5).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         District courts have the authority to transfer venue “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interests of justice, . . . to any other district or division where it might have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). However, “[a] plaintiff, as the injured party, generally ha[s] been ‘accorded [the] privilege of bringing an action where he chooses, ” Helicos Biosciences Corp. v. Illumina, Inc., 858 F.Supp.2d 367, 371 (D. Del. 2012) (quoting Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 31 (1955)), and this choice “should not be lightly disturbed, ” Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995).

         The Third Circuit has recognized that:

[i]n ruling on § 1404(a) motions, courts have not limited their consideration to the three enumerated factors in § 1404(a) (convenience of parties, convenience of witnesses, or interests of justice), and, indeed, commentators have called on the courts to “consider all relevant factors to determine whether on balance the litigation would more conveniently proceed and the interests of justice be better served by transfer to a different forum.”

Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879 (citation omitted). The Jumara court went on to describe twelve (12) “private and public interests protected by the language of § 1404(a).” Id. The private interests include:

plaintiff's forum preference as manifested 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. at 879 (citations omitted). The public interests 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 familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state law in diversity cases.

Id. at 879-80.

         The party seeking transfer bears the burden “to establish that a balancing of proper interests weigh[s] in favor of transfer.” Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970). Moreover, though courts have “broad discretion to determine, on an individualized, case-by-case basis, whether convenience and fairness considerations weigh in favor of transfer, ” Jumara, 55 F.3d at 883, the Third Circuit has held that “unless the balance of convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of [the] defendant, the plaintiff's choice of forum should prevail.” Shutte, 431 F.2d at 25.

         III. ...


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