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NATIONAL PROP. INVESTORS VIII v. SHELL OIL CO.

November 27, 1995

NATIONAL PROPERTY INVESTORS VIII, Plaintiff,
v.
SHELL OIL COMPANY, HOECHST-CELENASE CORPORATION, E.I. DuPONT de NEMOURS & COMPANY, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BASSLER

 BASSLER, DISTRICT JUDGE:

 Defendant E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company ("Du Pont") moves pursuant to 28 United States Code Section 1404(a) to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This Court's jurisdiction is pursuant to 28 United States Code Section 1332(a). For the reasons set forth below, Du Pont's motion is granted and this case is transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

 I. BACKGROUND

 This lawsuit relates to failures from an allegedly defective polybutylene plumbing system installed in the Huntington Apartments, a 212-unit apartment complex owned by the Plaintiff, National Property Investors VIII ("NPI"). (Complaint at P 3). NPI is a California limited partnership. (Id.). The Huntington Apartments complex is located in Morrisville, North Carolina, within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. (Affidavit of David M. Freedman at P 2).

 The Complaint alleges defects in the Huntington Apartments' plumbing system, which was manufactured from resins supplied by Shell Oil Company ("Shell"), Hoechst-Celenase Chemical Corporation ("H-C") and Du Pont. (Compl. at PP 13-14). Defendant Vanguard Plastics, Inc. ("Vanguard") allegedly manufactured and/or extruded and sold the polybutylene pipes installed in the Huntington Apartments. (Compl. at P 15).

 Du Pont is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Delaware. (Compl. at P 6). H-C is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey. (Compl. at P 5). Shell is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Texas. (Compl. at P 4). Vanguard is Pennsylvania corporation. (Compl. at P 7).

 NPI seeks to hold Defendants liable for breach of warranty, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, unfair business practices, negligent design and strict products liability. (Compl. at Counts One-Eight).

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Motion to Transfer Venue

 28 United States Code Section 1404(a) provides:

 
For the convenience of the parties and witnesses in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought.

 The purpose of Section 1404(a) 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, 11 L. Ed. 2d 945, 84 S. Ct. 805 (1964) (quoting Continental Grain Co. v. Barge FBL-585, 364 U.S. 19, 26-27, 80 S. Ct. 1470, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1540 (1960)); Ricoh Co., Ltd. v. Honeywell, Inc., 817 F. Supp. 473, 479 (D.N.J. 1993).

 Since the parties do not contend that the action could not "have been brought" in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Court does not address that issue in this Opinion.

 1. Standard of Review

 The decision whether to transfer an action pursuant to Section 1404(a) rests in the Court's discretion and is reviewed for abuse of discretion. See Lony v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 886 F.2d 628, 631-32 (3d Cir. 1989) (decision to grant or deny forum non conveniens motion is within sound discretion of trial court). The party seeking transfer of venue bears the burden of establishing that transfer is warranted and must submit "adequate data of record" to facilitate the court's analysis. Ricoh Co. v. Honeywell, Inc., 817 F. Supp. 473, 480 (D.N.J. 1993). Before transferring venue, the district court must articulate specific reasons for its decision. Lacey v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 862 F.2d 38 (3d Cir. 1988); Ricoh, 817 F. Supp. at 480.

 2. Factors Guiding Court's Discretion

 The Court's analysis under Section 1404(a) is flexible and turns on the particular facts of the case. Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29-30, 101 L. Ed. 2d 22, 108 S. Ct. 2239 (1988). In Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 91 L. Ed. 1055, 67 S. Ct. 839 (1947), the Supreme Court listed several factors that guide the Court's decision-making in this area. These factors fall into two categories: (1) the private interests of the litigants; and (2) the public interest in the fair and efficient administration of justice. Gulf Oil, 330 U.S. at 508-509.

 The private interest factors are: (1) plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (3) the availability and cost of compulsory process for unwilling witnesses; (4) obstacles to a fair trial; (5) the possibility of viewing the premises, if viewing the premises would be appropriate to the action; and (6) all other factors relating to the expeditious and efficient adjudication of the dispute. Gulf Oil, 330 U.S. at 508-09.

 The public interest factors are: (1) the relative backlog and other administrative difficulties in the two jurisdictions; (2) the fairness of placing the burdens of jury duty on the citizens of the state with the greater interest in the dispute; (3) the local interest in adjudicating localized disputes; and (4) the appropriateness of having the jurisdiction whose law will govern adjudicate the dispute in order to avoid difficult problems in conflicts of laws. Id.

 The Supreme Court articulated these factors with respect to a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens. Nevertheless, courts routinely look to the Gulf Oil factors in deciding a motion to transfer venue under 1404(a). E.g., Ricoh, 817 F. Supp. at 479-88. Because transfer of venue is less drastic than dismissal, however, district courts have broader discretion to transfer venue than to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds. Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 32, 99 L. Ed. 789, 75 ...


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