regional offices in Champaign. However, Follett bases its claim
on the alleged falsification of accounting reports, manipulation
of store inventory, and misuse of assets and funds by the
defendants originating at its regional office in Champaign and
its bookstores in Champaign and West Lafayette. Follett alleges
that the defendants used their control of the bookstores to
purchase personal items with Follett assets, maintain an
off-the-book account with a Champaign office machine store, and
take petty cash from bookstore safes. Follett does not allege
that the defendants reside, have an agent, or transact any of
their affairs in this district.
As shown by the complaint, it is clear that virtually all of
the alleged activities concerning Follett's cause of action took
place in either Champaign or West Lafayette. The defendants' only
contacts with this district were minimal and involved document
mailings and telephone calls originating from outside of this
Follett argues that the "weight of the contracts" rule
recognizes that venue lies, and a claim arises, in any district
where contacts are "more than miniscule."*fn1 Follett contends that
the defendants came into this district to transact their affairs.
Follett states specifically that Anthony Fernandez made 35 trips
into this district since 1979.
Although the various defendants may have made numerous trips
into this district, Follett does not allege or support the
proposition that these trips relate directly to the subject
matter of this suit. Follett's only allegations which relate
directly to this district and to the subject matter of this suit
are the mailings and telephone calls. Therefore, in considering
the various forms of contact alleged against the defendants, this
Court finds that Follett fails to meet its own imposed standard
of showing that the defendants' contacts with this district were
more than "miniscule." See Hindu Incense v. Meadows, 439 F. Supp. 844,
847 (N.D.Ill. 1977).
Essentially, this district is a forum unrelated to the heart of
the instant lawsuit. A clear majority of the acts alleged in
Count I of Follett's complaint refer to operation of its business
outside of this district.*fn2 While plaintiff's choice of forum is
important, it has reduced value where, as here, the chosen forum
lacks significant contact with the underlying cause of action.
Hotel Constructors, Inc. v. Seagrave Corp., 543 F. Supp. 1048,
1050 (N.D.Ill. 1982).
Clearly the weight of the Fernandezes' own contacts relating to
this suit lean in favor of venue for Count I to be located in the
Central District of Illinois. However, as venue for Count I under
the RICO Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1965(a), may be proper in the Northern
District of Illinois, in the interest of justice and to protect
the continuation of Follett's claim, this Court finds that a
transfer of Count I is preferable to a dismissal of the entire
suit. See Troyer v. Karcagi, 488 F. Supp. 1200, 1206 (S.D.N.Y.
Where there is a dispute as to whether general or specific
venue provisions apply, the case may be transferred to the
district where venue cannot be questioned. Clayton v. Swift &
Co., 132 F. Supp. 154, 158 (E.D.Va. 1955).*fn3 As Follett's complaint
shows, a clear majority of alleged acts by the Fernandezes took
place in Champaign, Illinois. Based on the defendants' own
contacts with that district, RICO Act venue is unquestionably
proper in the Central District of Illinois. See Farmers Bank, 452
F. Supp. at 1281. However, it is questionable whether the
defendants' telephone calls, document mailings, or alleged trips
into this district establish RICO Act venue in the Northern
District of Illinois due to their own contacts here. See Id.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the U.S. District Court
for the Central District of Illinois is far a preferable forum to
this one in which to proceed with Count I of this suit. The
defendants have moved for venue transfer under
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a),*fn4 which allows transfer where the original venue was
proper. It is questionable whether venue for Count I was proper
under the RICO Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1965(a). However, it is
unnecessary for the Fernandezes to elect between 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)
and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a)*fn5 since the statutes each confer
authority to transfer this suit whether or not venue was
originally proper in this district. Troyer, 488 F. Supp. at 1206.
In the interests of justice and judicial economy, this Court
finds that Counts II through V should be transferred to the
Central District of Illinois along with Count I. All five counts
relate to the same occurrences and share common allegations.
Transfer of related counts to the same forum is favored in order
to avoid duplicitous litigation, inconsistent results, and
associated waste of time and money of the court, the parties, and
the witnesses. Pesin v. Goldman, Sachs & Co., 397 F. Supp. 392,
393 (S.D.N.Y. 1975).
For the foregoing reasons, defendants' Motion to Dismiss is
denied, but the Motion to Transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) is
granted. The cause is ordered transferred to the District Court
for the Central District of Illinois.
IT IS SO ORDERED.