United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER SEVERING THE CLAIMS
AGAINST THE DELAWARE DEFENDANTS AND TRANSFERRING THOSE CLAIMS
TO THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE [DOCKET # 24]
RENÉE MARIE BUMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court upon the Court's Order to
Show Cause why this case should not be transferred to the
District of Delaware or another more convenient District
[Docket # 21], and Defendants' Motion to Transfer this
case to the District of Delaware [Docket # 24], filed in
response to the Court's Order to Show Cause.
Court has carefully considered the issues raised in the
parties' submissions at Docket Entries 24, 25, 27 and 28
and concludes the following. First, Plaintiff opposes
transfer primarily arguing that transfer is “not
possible” because two of the ten Defendants to this
suit (excluding the “John Doe” Defendants)--
Sonic Industries, Inc. / RBC Sonic (“Sonic”) and
Aetna Steel Products Corporation (“Aetna
Steel”)-- might not be subject to personal jurisdiction
in Delaware. However, Defendants respond, and the Court
agrees, that severing Sonic and Aetna Steel is a viable
option, thereby allowing the transfer of the claims against
the other eight Defendants to the District of Delaware.
See D'Jamoos ex rel. Estate of Weingeroff v. Pilatus
Aircraft Ltd., 566 F.3d 94, 110 (3d Cir. 2009)(“in
applying 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) . . . we have held that
where a case could have been brought against some defendants
in the transferee district, the claims against those
defendants may be severed [pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 21] and
transferred while the claims against the remaining
defendants, for whom transfer would not be proper, are
retained.”)(citing White v. ABCO Eng'g
Corp., 199 F.3d 140, 144 (3d Cir. 1999)).
severing and transferring the claims against the eight
Delaware Defendants furthers interests of judicial economy
because transfer will moot those Defendants' argument
that the District of New Jersey lacks personal jurisdiction
over them. [See Dkt # 15, 28] This outcome undermines
Plaintiff's assertion that severance will be
“inefficient.” [Dkt # 27, p. 2 n. 3]
the Court's balancing of the Jumara factors (set
forth in the Order to Show Cause) supports transfer of the
claims against the Delaware Defendants to the District of
Delaware. As the Court observed previously, venue in this
District is based upon the tenuous connection that “the
alleged asbestos exposure allegedly occurred on a U.S.
government-owned ship docked in Camden, New Jersey during
1960, ” almost 60 years ago. [Dkt. #21, p. 3] On the
other hand, the connection to Delaware is much clearer.
Plaintiff does not dispute Defendants' assertion that
seven of the nine physicians who treated the decedent have
Delaware addresses, whereas none have New Jersey addresses.
[Dkt. # 24, p. 6]
remaining factors do not alter the Court's conclusion as
they are neutral. For example, the parties dispute whether
New Jersey law or maritime law will apply to Plaintiff's
claims, thereby precluding any conclusion at this time as to
which District-- New Jersey or Delaware-- would be more
familiar with the applicable law. Similarly, the
enforceability of any potential judgment and the public
policies of the fora do not appear at this time to be
significant considerations in this case.
Plaintiff emphasizes that the decedent lived and worked in
New Jersey in 1960-- almost 60 years ago-- when the alleged
exposure occurred over the course of a single year.
in the Court's view, the more pertinent inquiry is
Plaintiff's location when this suit was filed.
Plaintiff's residence, not decedent's residence when
his claim allegedly arose so long ago, is more pertinent to
each forum's interests in adjudicating controversies
local to it. That is, Plaintiff's status as a Delaware
resident who is bringing suit against Delaware Defendants
renders this case of most concern to Delaware, and therefore
outweighs Plaintiff's forum choice of New Jersey.
IT IS on this 7th day of August 2018, hereby:
claims against Defendants Avborne Accessory Group, Inc.;
Dover Corporation; Dover Engineered Systems, Inc.; RBC
Bearings, Incorporated; Sargent Aerospace & Defense, LLC;
Sargent Industries, Inc.; RBC Sargent Airtomic; and Roller
Bearing Company Of America, Inc. are SEVERED
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 21 and TRANSFERRED
to the United States District Court for the District of
Delaware, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); and
to the remaining claims against RBC Sonic / Sonic Industries,
Inc., and Aetna Steel Products Corporation, the Court will
hold a telephonic pre-motion conference concerning RBC Sonic
/ Sonic Industries, Inc.'s proposed motion to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction [see Dkt No. 15] on September
7, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. Counsel for Sonic shall kindly initiate