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Applied Predictive Technologies, Inc. v. MarketDial, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 1, 2019

APPLIED PREDICTIVE TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MARKETDIAL, INC. and JOHN M. STODDARD, Defendants

          Karen Jacobs, Michael J. Flynn, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, Delaware; Kirk R. Ruthenberg, Eric Sophir, Nicholas H. Jackson, Eric Y. Wu, DENTONS U.S. LLP, Washington, District of Columbia; Jennifer Bennett, DENTONS U.S. LLP, San Francisco, California; Patrick Doll, DENTONS U.S. LLP, Dallas, Texas Counsel for Plaintiff

          Herbert W. Mondros, Krista Reale Samis, Helene Episcopo, MARGOLIS EDELSTEIN, Wilmington, Delaware; Neel Chatterjee, Andrew Ong, GOODWIN PROCTOR LLP, Redwood City, California; Samuel Sherry, GOODWIN PROCTOR LLP, Boston, Massachusetts; Cindy Chang, GOODWIN PROCTOR LLP, New York, New York Counsel for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLM F. CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Applied Predictive Technologies, Inc. ("APT") has filed a three-count amended complaint alleging two counts of misappropriation of trade secrets by Defendants MarketDial, Inc. and John M. Stoddard and one count of patent infringement by MarketDial. D.I. 23 at 26, 33, 35. Pending before me is Defendants' Motion to Transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) or Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. See D.I. 9. Defendants request that I transfer the case to the District of Utah or, alternatively, dismiss Mr. Stoddard as a defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction.

         The parties engaged in jurisdictional discovery and have fully briefed the motion. See D.I. 10; 24; 45; 58. For the reasons discussed below, I will grant Defendants' request to transfer the case to the District of Utah and therefore need not address Defendants' alternative request to dismiss the case against Mr. Stoddard for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Delaware has one-and only one-connection to this case: it is the legal domicile of the cases' two corporate parties. None of the alleged tortious conduct or infringement is alleged to have occurred in Delaware. Neither MarketDial nor Mr. Stoddard have conducted business in Delaware. Mr. Stoddard has never been in Delaware. No. witness is alleged to have any Delaware ties; and no relevant evidence is alleged to be or have been in Delaware.

         APT's principal place of business is in Virginia. It does not dispute Defendants' assertion that APT advertises that its 600 employees work in 17 offices in 12 countries. Nor does it dispute Defendants' assertion that APT generates an annual revenue of approximately $100 million.

         MarketDial's principal place of business is in Utah. The software sold by MarketDial that APT accuses of infringing APT's patent was developed in Utah, using computers located in Utah. Mr. Stoddard is a resident of Utah, where he has custody of his children every other week. Other than his equity in MarketDial, Mr. Stoddard's only substantial assets are a 2000 Toyota Tundra, a bank account holding less than his monthly salary, and the furniture in his rented apartment.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Section 1404(a) provides that "[f]or the convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interests of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). It is undisputed that this action could have been brought in the District of Utah.

         Defendants have the burden "to establish that a balancing of proper interests weigh[s] in favor of the transfer." Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3dCir. 1970). This burden is heavy. "[U]nless the balance of convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of [the] defendant[s], the plaintiffs choice of forum should prevail." Id. (emphasis in original) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         The proper interests to be weighed in deciding whether to transfer a case under § 1404(a) are not limited to the three factors recited in the statute (i.e., the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and the interests of justice). Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995). Although there is "no definitive formula or list of the factors to consider" in a transfer analysis, the court in Jumara identified 12 interests "protected by the language of § 1404(a)." Id. Six of those interests are private:

[1] plaintiffs forum preference as manifested in the original choice; [2] the defendant's preference; [3] whether the claim arose elsewhere; [4] the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition; [5] 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 [6] the location of books and ...

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