United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER
Charles Eskridge United States District Judge
the Court is a motion filed by Defendant Alicia Knox to
transfer venue to the Corpus Christi Division. Dkt 10. Upon
consideration, the Court grants the motion.
Total Safety U.S. Inc and Total Safety On-Site Services Inc
(together, Total Safety) provide integrated industrial safety
services to the petrochemical refining, pipeline, and
industrial sectors. Both Total Safety entities are Delaware
corporations with principal places of business in Houston.
Dkt 1 at 1-2. Total Safety also does business in Corpus
Christi with an office of approximately thirty full-time
employees. Dkt 31 at 34.
a resident of Corpus Christi. Dkt 1 at 2. In May 2019, Total
Safety acquired Airgas On-Site Services Inc, a national
safety service provider. Knox worked for Airgas in Corpus
Christi at the time of the acquisition, but she resigned
shortly after. She continues to live in Corpus Christi and
now works there for Select Safety Service Inc, allegedly a
direct competitor of Total Safety. Dkt 1 at 6.
Safety alleges that Knox misappropriated confidential
business information and trade secrets. Total Safety further
alleges that Knox contacted her customers “in Corpus
Christi, Texas, ” on behalf of Select Safety in
violation of her nonsolicitation agreement. Dkt 1-4 at 1
(Total Safety demand letter prior to filing suit); see also
Dkt 1 at 16.
2019, Total Safety filed suit against Knox in the Houston
Division of the Southern District of Texas. Total Safety
asserts violations of the Trade Secrets Act and the Computer
Fraud and Abuse Act, misappropriation of trade secrets under
Texas law, and breach of contract. See Dkt 1.
filing suit, Total Safety also sought preliminary and
permanent injunctive relief. Dkt 1 at 16-17. Rather than
proceed to hearing, Total Safety and Knox agreed to a
preliminary injunction to avoid unnecessary costs and fees.
Dkt 12-1 at 1. On July 30th, the Court entered the agreed
preliminary injunction. Dkt 13. Knox later brought a motion
to dissolve the preliminary injunction, which this Court
denied. See Dkts 26, 35.
filed the instant motion to transfer this case to the Corpus
Christi Division under 28 USC § 1404(a). On December
5th, the Court heard argument on the motion. Dkt 31
courts may transfer an action for the “convenience of
parties and witnesses” and “in the interest of
justice” to any other district “where it might
have been brought.” 28 USC § 1404(a). Allowing the
potential for transfer under § 1404 serves to prevent a
potentially unfair imposition of burden on defendants when
plaintiffs exercise their privilege under § 1391 to
select venue in the first instance. See In re Volkswagen
of America, Inc, 545 F.3d 304, 313 (5th Cir 2008)
considering a motion to transfer, the initial question is
whether the action “might have been brought” in
the alternative venue. Id. at 312. If it could have
been, the district court then determines whether transfer
serves the convenience of parties and witnesses and is in the
interests of justice. In re Volkswagen AG, 371 F.3d
201, 203 (5th Cir 2004) (Volkswagen I). This balance
considers a range of private and public factors, with none
having dispositive weight. Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d
at 315, citing Gulf Oil Corp v Gilbert, 330
U.S. 501 (1947); see also Volkswagen I, 371 F.3d at
items of private-interest consideration are:
o The relative ease of access to sources ...