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Monarch Environmental, Inc v. Velocitor Solutions

September 27, 2011

MONARCH ENVIRONMENTAL, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
VELOCITOR SOLUTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle

OPINION

SIMANDLE, District Judge:

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Monarch Environmental, Inc. ("Monarch"), a Delaware corporation, with its principal place of business and citizenship in New Jersey, filed this action against Defendant Velocitor Solutions ("Defendant"),*fn1 a business entity with its principal place of business and citizenship in North Carolina, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("CFA"), violation of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("UDTPA"), and declaratory judgment. Presently before the Court is Defendant Velocitor's motion [Docket Item 15] to transfer venue from this Court to the Western District of North Carolina, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Defendant's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, engaged in the business of servicing oil tanks, entered into negotiations with Defendant regarding software and equipment that would allow Plaintiff's employees to communicate more efficiently with customers and relay information to Plaintiff's headquarters. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-12.) During the negotiations, Maureen Spaziani, Plaintiff's then vice-president, was Defendant's main contact. (Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Transfer 11); (Pl's Br. in Opp. to Def.'s Mot. to Transfer 2-3, 13). During June 2008, the parties entered into an agreement. (Compl. ¶ 14.) Defendant sent a proposed agreement to Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Ms. Spaziani signed the agreement and returned it to Defendant, who in turn, executed the agreement. (Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Transfer 2).

This lawsuit arises out of Plaintiff's allegations that Defendants improperly "double billed" Plaintiff, breached their contract with Plaintiff by deactivating the software, rendering the equipment useless, and failed to deliver further equipment as the agreement provides. (Compl. ¶¶ 19-21.) Defendant believes that this lawsuit should be transferred to the Western District of North Carolina due to the "parties' contractual choice of a North Carolina forum and [the agreement's] selection of North Carolina as the governing law." (Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Transfer 14).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Section 1404(a) Standard

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) "[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 directed courts, in addition to the three enumerated factors in § 1404(a), 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 v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Thus, "[c]courts ruling on § 1404(a) motions have accordingly taken into account a wide range of public and private interests in determining whether a transfer is appropriate." Yocham v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 565 F. Supp. 2d 554, 557 (D.N.J. 2008).

The Jumara court identified several private interests courts should consider: 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).

Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879 (citations omitted). Among the public interests courts should consider are: 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 (citations omitted). "It is well-settled that the burden on a § 1404(a) motion must be borne by the party seeking to transfer the case, and that 'the motion must not be lightly granted.'" Yocham, 565 F. Supp. 2d at 557 (quoting Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction 3d § 3848); see also Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 401 U.S. 910 (1971). "[T]he plaintiff's choice of forum will not be disturbed unless the balance of interest tilts strongly in favor of ...


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