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Nathan v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 17, 2019

NOAH NATHAN Plaintiff
v.
TAKEDA PHARMACEUTICALS U.S.A., INC. Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NITZA I. QUIÑONES ALEJANDRO, U.S.D.C. J.

         INTRODUCTION

         Before this Court is a motion to transfer venue from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (“EDPA”) to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (“EDVA”) filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) by Defendant Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. (“Defendant”), on the basis of forum non conveniens. [ECF 6]. Plaintiff Noah Nathan (“Plaintiff”) opposes the motion. [ECF 9]. The issues raised in the motion have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's motion to transfer is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Briefly, the salient facts, which are derived from Plaintiff's complaint, as well as the declarations and other evidence submitted with each party's respective briefs, can be summarized as follows:

Plaintiff's employment with Defendant and its predecessor companies commenced in 2002. His most recent position was Territory Manager of Defendant's Reston, Virginia territory.[1] On October 22, 2018, Plaintiff, a former resident of Alexandria, Virginia, now a resident of Ellicott City, Maryland, [2] filed in this federal district a complaint against Defendant asserting claims of retaliation in violation of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h); and retaliation and discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Virginia Human Rights Act (“VHRA”), Va. Code § 2.2-3900 et seq. [See generally ECF 1, Compl.].
Previously, on September 14, 2009, Plaintiff filed a qui tam action against Defendant under the False Claims Act in the EDPA in which he alleged that Defendant was marketing a drug called Dextilant off-label. The qui tam action was subsequently voluntarily transferred to the EDVA, where it was litigated through 2014. Ultimately, the action was dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(6). See United States Ex. Rel. Nathan v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc., Civ A. No. 1:09-cv-1086 (E.D. Va.).
In November 2011, Plaintiff had also filed a Title VII lawsuit in Virginia state court alleging sex and family responsibility discrimination and retaliation. The state court action was removed to the EDVA in December 2011, where summary judgment was granted in favor of Defendant. See Nathan v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., Civ. A. No. 1:11-cv-1360 (E.D. Va).
In the instant complaint, Plaintiff alleges that beginning in April 2017, and continuing through his termination on November 30, 2017, he was subjected to discrimination because of his sex, retaliation for the prior lawsuits, and to heightened scrutiny by his managers in Reston, Virginia. Less than a month prior to his termination, Plaintiff had raised with human resources and management concerns of alleged off-label marketing of the drugs Trintellix and Uloric. Plaintiff alleges that management and human resources were aware of his prior False Claims Act and Title VII litigation, targeted him, and terminated his employment in retaliation.

         Instantly, Defendant moves to transfer this matter from the EDPA to the EDVA pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) for the convenience of the parties and the witnesses and in the interest of justice on the basis of the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Section 1404(a) provides that “[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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The purpose of transferring venue under § 1404(a) “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). In determining whether transfer is appropriate, “the district court is vested with wide discretion.” Plum Tree, Inc. v. Stockment, 488 F.2d 754, 756 (3d Cir. 1973).

         The determination of whether a venue transfer is appropriate under § 1404(a) requires consideration of two elements; to wit: (1) whether both the original and the requested venues are proper, and (2) if venues are proper, whether the convenience of the parties and witnesses and the interest of justice would be better served by transfer to a different forum. Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 878-79 (3d Cir. 1995).

         Accordingly, this Court must first determine if venue is proper in both the EDPA and the EDVA. The venue provision for Title VII claims provides that actions may be brought:

in any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed, in the judicial district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered, or in the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice, but if the respondent is not found within any such district, such action may be brought within the judicial district in which the respondent has his principal office.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3).

         The general venue statute contained in 28 U.S.C. § 1391 governs Plaintiff's False Claims Act and VHRA claims. Venue is proper under § 1391 in a judicial district in which any defendant resides; a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred; or in any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction if no other venue is proper. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

         Once this Court determines that venue in both forums is proper, it must then undertake a balancing test to determine whether the convenience of the parties and witnesses and the interest of justice would be better served by a transfer to a different forum. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879; Cappola v. Ferrellgas, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 195, 197 (E.D. Pa. 2008). Although there is no definitive formula or exhaustive list of factors to consider when determining whether a transfer of venue is warranted, a court must weigh existing relevant private and public interests in its decision process. A non-exhaustive list of these interests was articulated by the Third Circuit in Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., commonly known as the Jumara factors. 55 F.3d at 879-80.

         The moving party bears the burden of establishing the need for the transfer. Id. at 879.[3]“Transfer is not warranted, however, if the result is merely to shift the inconvenience from one party to the other.” DermaMed, Inc. v. Spa de Soleil, Inc, 152 F.Supp.2d 780, 783 (E.D. Pa. 2001). “‘[U]nless the balance of convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of defendant, the plaintiff's choice of forum should prevail.'” Penn Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. BNC ...


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