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Zenith Products Corp. v. Design Home Solutions

May 24, 2010

ZENITH PRODUCTS CORP., PLAINTIFF
v.
DESIGN HOME SOLUTIONS, LLC, DEFENDANT



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

MEMORANDUM

In this patent infringement action, Design Home Solutions filed a motion to transfer venue to the Southern District of Florida. The motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Zenith Products is the owner of U.S. Patent No. D542,897 (the '897 patent) for a "curved shower rod." Zenith claims defendant Design Home Solutions makes and sells a "stainless steel curved and adjustable shower rod" which is covered by the '897 patent. Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 14-15. Zenith has filed a patent infringement suit against Design Home in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Zenith is incorporated in Delaware and has its principal place of business there. Mahon Decl. ¶ 3. All relevant documents relating to the conception, design, development, and patent prosecution of the '897 patent are located in Delaware or in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Id. ¶¶ 5, 6. The inventor of the shower rod covered by the '897 patent lives and works in Delaware. Harwenko Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6, 7.

Design Home requests transfer of this action to the Southern District of Florida pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), arguing that because neither party is located here and the Eastern District has no particular connection to this dispute, the case should be transferred.*fn1 Design Home is incorporated in Tamarac, Florida and has its principal place of business there. Monaghan Decl. ¶¶ 2, 3. The accused infringing product was designed and developed in Tamarac, and all documents relevant to its development and marketing are in Tamarac. Id. at ¶¶ 5, 7-9. The products are sold through Costco, a national retail chain, and Design Home itself has not directly sold the products in Pennsylvania. Id. ¶ 11; Def.'s Motion to Transfer, 3. Design Home has no offices, employees, or agents in this District. Monaghan Decl. ¶¶ 4, 10.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Section 1404(a) provides: "For 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). "Section 1404(a) is intended to place discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness." Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29, 108 S.Ct. 2239, 101 L.Ed.2d 22 (1988). A defendant moving for transfer under Section 1404(a) bears the burden of showing that its requested venue is proper, that it would be more convenient for the parties and the witnesses, and that transfer is in the interest of justice. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. "Transfer is not warranted if the result is merely to shift the inconvenience from one party to the other." Nat'l Paintball Supply, Inc. v. Cossio, 996 F.Supp. 459, 463 (E.D.Pa. 1998) (citing Vipond v. Consol. Rail Corp., No. 94-2147, 1994 WL 534808 (E.D.Pa.1994)).

In deciding whether transfer is appropriate and fair, courts consider a number of other specific factors, which may include: (1) the plaintiff's forum preference as manifested in its original venue choice; (2) the defendant's forum preference; (3) whether the claim arose elsewhere; (4) the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition; (5) the convenience of the witnesses to the extent they may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora; and (6) the location of books and records necessary for litigation. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879 (internal citations omitted). Relevant public factors are: (1) the enforceability of the judgment; (2) practical considerations that could affect the ease or expense of trial; (3) the relative administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion; (4) local interest in deciding local controversies at home; (5) the public policies of the fora; and (6) the familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state law in diversity cases. Id. at 879-80.*fn2 "Depending on the nature and facts of the case, these factors often overlap and are intertwined." Gonzales v. Supervalu Transp., Inc., No. 07-5437, 2008 WL 943018 at *1 (E.D.Pa. Apr. 3, 2008).

III. DISCUSSION

A. The Proposed Venue is Proper

Zenith does not dispute that, because Design Home is incorporated in and has its principal place of business in Tamarac, Florida, the Southern District of Florida would be a proper venue for this action. Pl.'s Resp. to Motion to Transfer, 8. Therefore, the resolution of this motion turns on a balancing of the factors affecting the convenience of the parties and witnesses and the interest of justice.

B. Private Factors

1. The Parties' Choice of Forum

In considering a transfer request, a plaintiff's choice of forum "is entitled to great weight and is not to be disturbed unless the balance of convenience strongly favors the defendants' forum." Blanning v. Tisch, 378 F.Supp. 1058, 1060 (E.D.Pa. 1974) (citing Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22 (3d Cir. 1970)). Where the plaintiff's forum choice is neither its state of residence nor the location of the occurrence upon which the suit is based, that forum choice is entitled to less weight. See Pro Spice, Inc. v. Omni Trade Group, Inc., 173 F. Supp. 2d 336, 341 (E.D.Pa. 2001). Design Home suggests that Zenith is not suing in its "home forum," and that the subject matter of this lawsuit is located elsewhere. See Def.'s Motion to Transfer, 7 (citing Saint-Gobain Calmar, Inc. v. Nat'l Prods. ...


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