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Solofill, LLC. v. Rivera

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

April 13, 2017

Solofill, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Adrian Rivera, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GRAY H. MILLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the court is the defendants Adrian Rivera and Adrian Rivera Maynez Enterprises, Inc.'s (collectively “ARM”) motion to transfer venue. Dkt. 37. After considering the complaint, the motion, the response, the reply, the pending case in the Central District of California, and the applicable law, the court is of the opinion that ARM's motion to transfer venue should be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Solofill, LLC (“Solofill”) and ARM are involved in a dispute regarding after-market reusable brewing containers designed to be used with a Keurig coffee maker, known as “K-cups.” Dkt. 1 at 2. On June 28, 2016, ARM filed a complaint against Solofill for patent infringement, alleging that Solofill's reusable brewing containers infringed two of ARM's patents in United States District Court for the Central District of California (the “California litigation”). Dkt. 37, Ex. E (Rivera v. Solofill, LLC, Case No. 2:16-CV-04706 (C.D. Cal)). On September 6, 2016, Solofill filed a complaint for trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition in this court. Dkt. 1. On December 30, 2016, Solofill filed its second amended counterclaims in the California litigation. Dkt. 37, Ex. A. In those counterclaims, Solofill alleged that ARM “knocked off” Solofill's reusable brewing containers and asked for relief from unfair competition under the Lanham Act. Id.

         On January 5, 2017, ARM filed a motion to transfer Solofill's trademark claims from the Southern District of Texas to the Central District of California. Dkt. 37. ARM argues that this case should be transferred for the convenience of the parties and in the interest of justice. Id. Solofill opposes the transfer. Dkt. 42.

         II. Legal Standard

         “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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). “The district court has broad discretion in deciding whether to order a transfer.” Caldwell v. Palmetto State Sav. Bank of S.C., 811 F.2d 916, 919 (5th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the burden of showing why the forum should be changed. Time, Inc. v. Manning, 366 F.2d 690, 698 (5th Cir. 1966). In evaluating a § 1404(a) motion to transfer, the court examines (1) whether the action “might have been brought” in the transferee forum, and (2) whether there is “good cause” for transferring the action. In re Volkswagen of Am. Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 312, 315 (5th Cir. 2008).

         To show good cause, the movant must demonstrate that a transfer is “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.” Id. at 315. In determining whether transfer is appropriate, the court considers private and public interest factors. Id. The private interest factors are: (1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (2) the availability of compulsory process to secure attendance of witnesses; (3) the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and (4) all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. Id. The public interest factors are: (1) the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; (2) the local interest in having localized interests decided at home; (3) the familiarity of the forum with the law that will govern the case; and (4) the avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws or in the application of foreign law. Id. Although the Supreme Court has given the court some guidance with regard to the factors it should consider, none has dispositive weight, and “they are not necessarily exhaustive or exclusive.” Id. (citing Gulf Oil Corp. V. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 67 S.Ct. 839 (1947) (articulating the private and public interest factors to be considered in a motion to transfer venue)).

         The transfer statute, § 1404(a), was designed to save time, energy, and money in situations where two cases involving the same issues are simultaneously pending in different district courts. Cont'l Grain Co. v. Barge FBL-585, 364 U.S. 19, 26, 80 S.Ct. 1470 (1960). “[W]hen the transferee venue is not clearly more convenient than the venue chosen by the plaintiff, the plaintiff's choice should be respected.” In re Volkswagen, 545 F.3d at 315. However, when the movant demonstrates that the transferee venue is clearly more convenient, “it has shown good cause and the district court should therefore grant the transfer.” Id.

         III. Analysis

         In its motion to transfer venue, ARM argues that having the same litigation occur in two forums is inefficient and creates the potential for inconsistent decisions. Dkt. 37. Solofill responds that the same litigation is not occurring in two forums, because it did not pursue trademark and trade dress infringement claims in the California litigation. Dkt. 42. Further, Solofill opposes the motion to transfer based on plaintiff's choice of forum being the Southern District of Texas, a strong local interest in Texas, and the familiarity of Texas courts applying Texas trademark law. Id.

         First, the court will consider whether the action “might have been brought” in the Central District of California. The parties have complete diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because Solofill is located in Houston, Texas and ARM is located in Whittier, California and La Mirada, California. Dkt. 37. Furthermore, Solofill admitted that venue was proper in the California litigation located in the Central District of California. Id., Ex. F. The Court finds that this action could have been brought in the Central District of California. Therefore, the first step in the transfer analysis is satisfied.

         Although the case may have been brought in the Central District of California, the court must also find “good cause” for transferring the action in order to transfer the case. In re Volkswagen, 545 F.3d at 315. Therefore, the court will weigh the public and private factors to determine whether transfer is warranted for the convenience of the parties and is in the interest of justice.

         A. Private ...


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