Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

PRO SPICE, INC. v. OMNI TRADE GROUP

September 20, 2001

PRO SPICE, INC., PLAINTIFF,
V.
OMNI TRADE GROUP, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckwalter, J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before this Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss for improper venue or, in the alternative, for transfer of venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the Northern District of Texas. For the reasons stated below, the motion is DENIED in its entirety.

I. STATEMENT OF FACTS

Plaintiff Pro Spice, Inc. is a New Jersey corporation engaged in the business of importing and exporting spices, with its principal place of business in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Defendant Omni Trade Group, Inc. is a Texas corporation also engaged in the import-export business, with its principal place of business in Dallas, Texas. Plaintiff claims breach of contract against Defendant pursuant to an alleged agreement for purchase of vanilla beans from the Defendant in December 1999.

Prior to that alleged sale, in November 1999 Defendant and Plaintiff engaged in two similar transactions in which Defendant also sold various types of vanilla beans to Plaintiff. Jim Pallone, the Vice President of Plaintiff, and Andyan Rahardja, the President of Defendant, negotiated terms via telephone and correspondence between Texas and New Jersey. At the conclusion of negotiations, Defendant informed Plaintiff that the vanilla beans were located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Defendant instructed Plaintiff to contact either Michael Ballantine or another representative of Shank's Extracts, Inc. ("Shank's") in Lancaster to take delivery subject to Plaintiff's inspection of a sample of the beans. Defendant also instructed Plaintiff to pay it by wire transfer, but later revised its instructions to pay York Import Export/SIE Trading, Inc. ("York") which Defendant asserts is one of its suppliers in Pennsylvania. Plaintiff inspected and picked up the vanilla beans in Lancaster.

The parties engaged in a second sale of vanilla beans later in November 1999. Again, the parties negotiated terms via telephone and correspondence between Texas and New Jersey. Again, Plaintiff agreed to purchase certain beans for pickup in Lancaster. This time, Plaintiff paid Defendant by wire transfer to Texas. Again, Plaintiff picked up the beans in Lancaster.

Finally, the parties exchanged correspondence and engaged in conversations in December 1999 in anticipation of a third sale of vanilla beans. During this time, Defendant made various written offers to sell vanilla beans to Plaintiff for pick-up in Pennsylvania. According to Plaintiff, on December 7, 1999 it agreed (on behalf of Comiti, a Swiss company) to purchase a shipment of certain vanilla beans from Defendant for pick-up in January 2000 at Shank's in Lancaster. Defendant asserts it did not enter into such an agreement. In any case, Defendant informed Plaintiff of a supplier-related problem concerning that shipment, and, later that month, notified Plaintiff by e-mail that Michael Ballantine of Shank's would report on the status of the shipment upon his return from travel abroad. Nonetheless, Defendant did not make the shipment available for pick-up in Pennsylvania by the end of January 2000.

In its complaint before this Court, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant breached its contract and further alleges that the Defendant acted "in concert with Shanks and York" at all times.*fn1 Plaintiff asserts that Mr. Ballantine is a key witness in this matter, at least in part because it alleges he is affiliated with both Shanks and York, because Plaintiff dealt directly with him regarding pick-up of the vanilla beans during the two earlier transactions, and because of his alleged involvement concerning the shipment of beans at issue.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Improper Venue

Defendant challenges venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a), which provides that a diversity of citizenship action may be brought "only in (1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the acts or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought." The venue statute protects a defendant against the risk that a plaintiff will select an unfair or inconvenient place for trial. LeRoy v. Great W. United Corp., 443 U.S. 173, 183-84 (1979).

Defendant is a Texas corporation with its principal place of business in Texas. Therefore, venue would be proper in the Northern District of Texas, and Plaintiff concedes this issue. As a result, venue is proper in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) only if "a substantial part of the acts or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated" in this district. Under this analysis, a court considers the location of those events or omissions that give rise to the plaintiff's claim and not the defendant's contacts with a particular district. Cottman Transmission Sys., Inc. v. Martino, 36 F.3d 291, 294 (3d Cir. 1994). The events and omissions supporting the claim must be more than tangentially connected to the district to be considered to be substantial, "to preserve the element of fairness so that a defendant is not haled into a remote district having no real relationship to the dispute." Id. However, the burden of demonstrating that venue is improper is on the party that challenges venue. Myers v. Am. Dental Ass'n., 695 F.2d 716, 724-725 (3d Cir. 1982), cert. denied., 462 U.S. 1106 (1983); Simon v. Ward, 80 F. Supp.2d 464, 466-68 (E.D.Pa. 2000).

B. Transfer of Venue

A court may transfer the venue of any civil action for the convenience of parties and witnesses or in the interests of justice, to any other district where it might have been brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The purpose of this section 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 (1964) (quoting Continental Grain Co. v. Barge FBL-585, 364 U.S. 19, 26-27 (1960)). Although ยง 1404(a) gives a district court the discretion to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.