United States District Court, S.D. Texas
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER RE: ECF NO.
TIGAR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Wells Fargo Bank's Motion to
Transfer Venue. ECF No. 22. For the reasons below, the Court
grants the motion.
action concerns Wells Fargo's practice of collecting
post-payment interest on loans insured by the Federal Housing
Administration (“FHA”). ECF No. 17
(“Compl.”) ¶ 1. Post-payment interest is
interest that a lender collects after the borrower has paid
the full unpaid principal of the loan. Id. ¶ 2.
Plaintiff, Michael Peters, alleges that the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development's (“HUD”)
regulations “prohibit lenders from collecting
post-payment interest unless two strict conditions are met:
(a) the borrower makes payment of the full unpaid principal
on a day other than the first of the month” and (b) the
lender must provide the borrower with “a form approved
by the FHA.” Id. ¶ 4 (quoting 24 C.F.R.
§ 203.558(c)). According to Peters, Wells Fargo does not
use an approved form, and instead uses its own unauthorized
form which “does not fairly disclose the terms under
which Wells Fargo can collect post-payment interest or
properly explain how borrowers can avoid such charges.”
Id. ¶ 6.
owns a home in Montgomery, Texas. Id. ¶ 53. In
early 2017, Wells Fargo held a loan secured by Peter's
home. Id. In February 2017, Peters' refinanced
his home. Id. ¶ 55. Peters alleges that he
requested a payoff statement from Wells Fargo so he could pay
off his loan and that he was not provided with an
HUD-approved form. Id. ¶¶ 55, 61. Peters
then paid interest for the entire month of February 2017,
even though he had paid the full unpaid principal by February
21, 2017. Id. ¶ 60.
now brings a putative class action seeking relief under the
California Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and the Texas Debt
Collection Act (TDCA). See ECF No. 17 at 18-19.
Peters proposes a nationwide class consisting of “[a]ny
person in the United States other than in California who had
a FHA-insured loan for which (i) the Date of the Note is
during a period beginning on June 1, 1996 and ending on
January 20, 2015; (ii) as of the date the total amount due on
the loan was brought to zero, Wells Fargo was the Lender,
Mortgagee, or otherwise held legal title to the Note; and
(iii) Wells Fargo collected interest for any period after the
total amount due on the loan was brought to zero.”
Compl. ¶ 71. He also proposes a Texas subclass
consisting of “[a]ny person who had a FHA-insured loan
secured by a mortgage on real property located in
Texas” who meets the same conditions as the nationwide
Fargo brought the instant action to transfer venue to the
Southern District of Texas, where Peters and his property are
located. ECF No. 22 at 7.
the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to
any other district where it might have been brought.”
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The purpose of section 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) (internal citation
and quotation marks omitted). A motion for transfer lies
within the broad discretion of the district court, and must
be determined on an individualized basis. See Jones v.
GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498 (9th Cir. 2000)
(“Under § 1404(a), the district court has
discretion ‘to adjudicate motions for transfer
according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of
convenience and fairness.'” (quoting Stewart
Org. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988))).
moving party, Defendant bears the burden of showing that
transfer is warranted. Id. at 499. The statute
defines three factors that courts must consider: the
convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses,
and the interests of justice. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The
Ninth Circuit requires that courts consider a variety of
factors in determining whether to transfer an action. See
Jones, 211 F.3d at 498; Decker Coal Co. v.
Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir.
1986). The relevant factors are: (1) plaintiff's choice
of forum, (2) convenience of the parties, (3) convenience of
the witnesses, (4) ease of access to the evidence, (5)
familiarity of each forum with the applicable law, (6)
feasibility of consolidation of other claims, (7) any local
interest in the controversy, and (8) the relative court
congestion and time of trial in each forum. Barnes &
Noble v. LSI Corp., 823 F.Supp.2d 980, 993 (N.D. Cal.
Venue in the Target District
is only appropriate if the action could have been brought in
the Southern District of Texas. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
“A district court is one in which an action could have
been brought originally if (1) it has subject matter
jurisdiction; (2) defendants would have been subject to
personal jurisdiction; and (3) venue would have been
proper.” Duffy v. Facebook, Inc., No.
16-CV-06764-JSC, 2017 WL 1739109, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 4,
2017) (citing Hoffman, 363 U.S. 333, 343-44 (1960).
Southern District of Texas satisfies these requirements.
First, it has subject-matter jurisdiction under the Class
Action Fairness Act. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Second,
Defendant would have been subject to personal jurisdiction
there. As Wells Fargo states, “there is no dispute that
Wells Fargo maintains branches throughout the State of
Texas” and Peters “specifically alleges that he
received payoff disclosure statements that purportedly were
not compliant at his home in Montgomery, Texas.” ECF
No. 22 at 16. Finally, venue is proper in the ...