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Reightler v. Monmouth Bioproducts, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 3, 2014

FRANK REIGHTLER, Plaintiff,
v.
MONMOUTH BIOPRODUCTS, LLC d/b/a MONMOUTH BIOPRODUCTS, Inc. and SEAN M. DUDDY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court are defendants' motions to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) (Doc. 6) and transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (Doc. 14). The motions are fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

Background

This case arises from a dispute over an employment contract. On October 15, 2005, Defendants Sean Duddy and Monmouth Bioproducts, LLC (hereinafter "defendants") entered into an employment contract with Plaintiff Frank Reightler (hereinafter "plaintiff").[1] (Doc. 1-1, Compl. (hereinafter "Compl.") ¶ 6). Specifically, defendants hired plaintiff to act as their sales representative in Pennsylvania. (Compl., Ex. A, Emp't Contract at 1-2).

Plaintiff performed his sales responsibilities from October 15, 2005 until his resignation on October 7, 2013. (Compl. ¶ 7; Doc. 9-1, Pl.'s resignation letter dated 10/7/13). At the time of resignation, plaintiff alleges defendants owed him compensation in excess of $100, 000.00. (Compl. ¶ 9).

Based upon these facts, plaintiff filed a six-count complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County on November 18, 2013. Plaintiff's complaint asserts the following causes of action: Count One, breach of contract; Counts Two and Three, violations of Pennsylvania's Wage Payment and Collection Law (hereinafter "WPCL"); Count Four, unjust enrichment; Count Five, fraud-material misrepresentation; and Count Six, breach of fiduciary duty.

Defendants removed the case to this court on December 18, 2013. (Doc. 1). Subsequent to removal, defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12. (Doc. 6). Alternatively, defendants seek to transfer the instant action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. (Doc. 14). The parties then briefed the issues bringing the case to its present posture.

Standard of Review

Defendants filed their motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3). Under 12(b)(3), a court must grant a motion to dismiss if venue is improper. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(3). When a plaintiff "files a suit in an improper forum, district courts are required either to dismiss or transfer to a proper forum." Lafferty v. St. Riel , 495 F.3d 72, 77 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman , 369 U.S. 463, 465-66 (1962)); 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

Motions to dismiss for "improper venue generally require the court to accept as true the allegations of the pleadings." Heft v. AAI Corp. , 355 F.Supp.2d 757, 762 (M.D. Pa. 2005) (citing Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd. , 292 F.3d 361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002)). "The parties may submit affidavits in support of their positions, and may stipulate as to certain facts, but the plaintiff is entitled to rely on the allegations of the complaint absent evidentiary challenge." Heft, 335 F.Supp.2d at 762 (citing Carteret Sav. Bank, F.A. v. Shushan , 954 F.2d 141, 142 n.1 (3d Cir. 1992); Myers v. Am. Dental Ass'n , 695 F.2d 716, 724 (3d Cir. 1982). "Whatever the nature of the parties' submissions, the court is bound to view the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Id . (citing Carteret , 954 F.2d at 142 n.1; Myers , 695 F.2d at 724).

Defendants also bring a motion to change venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which provides, "[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...." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). "The burden of establishing the need for transfer... rests with the movant." Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co. , 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995). Courts consider a variety of factors in determining the proper forum, and "[w]hile there is no definitive formula or list of the factors to consider... courts have considered many variants of the private and public interests protected by the language of § 1404(a)." Id . Still, "[w]hether to transfer a case is generally committed to the discretion of the district courts." In re United States , 273 F.3d 380, 387 (3d Cir. 1995).

Discussion

Defendants contend that plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed, or in the alternative, be transferred to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.[2] Plaintiff argues that venue is proper in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Moreover, plaintiff claims that the relevant factors weigh against transferring the instant action to the District of New Jersey. After careful consideration, the court ...


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