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Granger v. REO Elite Abstract

January 15, 2010

JOHN GRANGER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
REO ELITE ABSTRACT, INC., AND DENISE WILLIAMS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge

HON. JEROME B. SIMANDLE

AMENDED OPINION

Plaintiff John Granger filed this action against Defendants REO Elite Abstract, Inc. and Denise Williams (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging Defendants committed copyright infringement by using Plaintiff's title insurance rate calculator after removing copyright management information. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion [Docket Item 10] to transfer venue from this Court to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Defendants' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff and Defendant REO Elite Abstract, Inc. ("REO" or "company") both reside in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-5.) Defendant Denise Williams ("Ms. Williams"), president and treasurer of REO, resides in Cherry Hill, NJ. (Id. ¶ 6.) This lawsuit arises out of Plaintiff's allegation that REO used Plaintiff's calculator without a license. (Id. ¶ 3.) This action was brought before the Court under 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501 (copyright infringement) and 17 U.S.C. § 1202(b) (removal or alteration of copyright management information).

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he submitted this lawsuit in this Court because REO does business in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. (Compl. ¶ 5.) Defendants believe that this lawsuit should be handled by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania because it is the home forum for the Plaintiff, the Defendants' office is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and any witnesses probably will reside in or near the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Def.'s Moving Br. at 1-3.)

II. DISCUSSION

A. Section 1404(a) Standard

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and (c), venue against a corporation will lie in any judicial district in which it is incorporated, licensed to do business or is doing business. See Reed v. Weeks Marine, 166 F. Supp. 2d 1052 (E.D.Pa. 2001) (citing Pure Oil Co. v. Suarez, 384 U.S. 202, 203, (1966)). REO's website states that the company transacts business in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. (Pl.'s Opp'n Br. Ex. A.) Furthermore, on the company's website there are separate calculators for Pennsylvania (Compl. Exs. C, F) and New Jersey (Compl. Ex. E).

Defendants' motion to transfer this matter to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania invokes 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which provides that "[f]or the convenience of 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 Court of Appeals has held that courts consider all relevant factors and not just the three enumerated factors in § 1404(a) (convenience of parties, convenience of witnesses, or interests of justice). Such considerations assist in determining if a transfer would better serve the interests of justice. Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995). Courts must consider both the private and public interests when ruling on § 1404(a) motions.

The Jumara court identified several private interests that courts now consider before making a decision. These private interests include the following:

plaintiff's forum choice 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. In addition, the Jumara court listed several public interests that courts will consider: 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 ...


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