United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Marshall Division
PAYNE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue. (Dkt.
No. 29.) Within the Motion to Transfer, Defendants
assert that the Southern District of Texas (“S.D.
Tex.”) would be clearly more convenient than proceeding
in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas
(“E.D. Tex.”). Defendants also assert that parallel
proceedings are pending that originated in S.D. Tex. and that
the first-to-file rule makes transfer appropriate to S.D.
Tex. (Id. at 1.)
before the Court is Defendants' Opposed Motion for Leave
to Submit Supplemental Evidence (Dkt. No. 63), which seeks to
file five additional exhibits for the Court. Defendants also
filed an Opposed Motion for Leave to File a Sur-Sur-Reply in
Support of its Motion to Transfer Venue. (Dkt. No. 78.)
Defendants' Opposed Motion for Leave to Submit
Supplemental Evidence (Dkt. No. 63), Defendants seek leave to
file Exhibits 13 through 17. In its response, Plaintiff
withdrew its objections with respect to Exhibits 13 through
16. (Dkt. No. 72 at 2.) However, Plaintiff continued to
oppose the Motion to Leave with respect to Exhibit 17.
(Id.) The Court GRANTS
Defendants' Opposed Motion for Leave (Dkt. No. 63) with
respect to all exhibits, including Exhibit 17. The Court
concludes that Exhibit 17 is being submitted to rebut
evidence presented by Plaintiff in its Response and that
Defendants have shown good cause for this filing.
also filed an Opposed Motion for Leave to File a
Sur-Sur-Reply. (Dkt. No. 78.) After consideration, the Court
GRANTS this Motion as Defendants have shown
good cause for this filing.
argue that they filed an earlier (by a single day)
declaratory judgment action in S.D. Tex. and that the
first-to-file rule mandates that this case should proceed in
S.D. Tex. (Dkt. No. 29 at 4 (citing Serv. Corp. Int'l
v. Loewen Grp. Inc., No. CIV. A. H-96-3269, 1996 WL
756808, at *2 (S.D. Tex. Nov. 29, 1996) (citing West Gulf
Maritime Ass'n v. ILA Deep Sea Local 24, 751 F.2d
721, 729 (5th Cir. 1985); Mann Mfg., Inc. v. Hortex,
Inc., 439 F.2d 403, 407 (5th Cir. 1971); California
Security Co-op, Inc. v. Multimedia Cablevision, Inc.,
897 F.Supp. 316, 317 (E.D. Tex.1995))).)
first-to-file rule is inapplicable to this case. The Southern
District has already decided that the first-filed case should
yield to this action. As Judge Miller ruled: “The fact
that CLR filed its declaratory judgment request here one day
earlier than C&J filed its claim in the Eastern District
does not give CLR first-filed priority because CLR is, in
essence, merely seeking a declaration that it is not at
fault; the affirmative claims belong to C&J. Equity
requires that the court dismiss CLR's claim and transfer
the counterclaims to the Eastern District of Texas.”
LEAM Drilling Systems, LLC, et al. v. C&J Spec Rent
Services, Inc. No. H-19-00411 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 7, 2019)
(Dkt. No. 23 at 6).
bears noting that Defendant's motion seeks first
“that the Court allow the Southern District of Texas to
rule on C&J's Motion to Transfer Venue to this Court.
Alternatively, Defendants … request that the Court
grant Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue to the
Southern District of Texas.” (Dkt. No. 29 at 10).
Defendants obtained their primary relief, the Southern
District ruled on their motion. However, unsatisfied with
that ruling, they ask this Court to reverse it.
that the Southern District declaratory judgment action was
transferred here, considerations of judicial and litigant
economy as well as the just and effective disposition of
disputes suggest that the first-to-file rule should not
apply. See Mobility Elecs., Inc. v. Am. Power Conversion
Corp., No. 5:07-cv-00083, 2007 WL 9724768 at *3 (E.D.
Tex. Oct. 10, 2007) (Craven, J.) (explaining that a party may
avoid “application of the first-to-file rule” by
“show[ing] the existence of compelling circumstances,
” such as “considerations of judicial and
litigant economy, and the just and effective disposition of
disputes”). Defendants' request to transfer the
case back to the Southern District pursuant to the first-
to-file rule is therefore DENIED. See
Apicore U.S. LLC v. Beloteca, Inc., No.
2:19-CV-00077-JRG, 2019 WL 1746079, at *6 (E.D. Tex. Apr. 18,
APPLICATION OF THE INTEREST FACTORS
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). To determine
whether venue transfer is appropriate under § 1404(a),
the Fifth Circuit has identified several private and public
interest factors. In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545
F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (“Volkswagen
II”). The private interest factors include (1) the
availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance
of witnesses; (2) the cost of attendance for willing
witnesses; (3) the relative ease of access to sources of
proof; and (4) all other practical problems that make trial
of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. Id.
The public interest factors include (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. Id.
plaintiff's choice of venue is not an express factor in
the analysis. Seven Networks, LLC v. Google LLC,
2:17-CV-00442-JRG, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146375, at *8
(citing Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 315). However, a
moving defendant must demonstrate that the proposed venue is
clearly more convenient that the current venue. Id.
(citing Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 315). By
applying this heightened standard, the plaintiff's choice
of forum is given the appropriate deference. Id.
(citing Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 315).
Plaintiff does not dispute that S.D. Tex. is an appropriate
venue and instead argues that S.D. Tex. is not clearly more
convenient. (See generally Dkt. No. 29.)
Accordingly, the Court will focus its analysis on the public
and private interest factors. Both parties agree that the
following factors are neutral: (1) the familiarity of the
forum with the law that will govern the case; and (2) the
avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws.
(Id. at 10; Dkt. No. 56 at 14.) The Court therefore
finds these factors to be neutral. The Court will address
each of the remaining public and private interest factors
The availability of compulsory process to secure the