to discuss Pansophic's choice of forum in connection with the situs of material events which lead to this cause of action.
Pansophic's corporate activities, including the management of Pansophic's Graphics Products Company, into which Genographic was merged in 1989, are conducted in Illinois. The Southern District of Texas, however, has much more significant contacts with this matter. HCS asserts and Pansophic does not deny that most of the action complained of occurred in Houston. That is, many of the clients from whom HCS allegedly pirated Pansophic's software are located in Houston. HCS' training, repair, and research and development facilities, all of which are indirectly implicated in Pansophic's complaint as the site where the misappropriated information is being used, are located in Houston. Moreover, the decisions to both hire away Pansophic and Genographic employees and to copy and use Pansophic's information and software could only have come from HCS corporate headquarters in Houston.
While Pansophic's choice of forum is generally entitled to deference, that deference is reduced by the fact that Texas is the situs of the material events of which Pansophic complains. Plaintiff's preference for an Illinois court has long been accorded "minimal value where none of the conduct complained of occurred in the forum selected by plaintiff. . . ." Chicago Rock Island R.R. Co. v. Igoe, 220 F.2d 299, 304 (7th Cir. 1955), cert. denied, 350 U.S. 822, 100 L. Ed. 735, 76 S. Ct. 49 (1955).
Whether this litigation is conducted in Texas or Illinois, both parties will be equally inconvenienced if the action is brought in the other's resident district and as a result, the convenience of the parties is not decisive. However, because Texas is the situs of the material events, we conclude that the scales tip strongly in favor of transfer.
2. Convenience of Witnesses
Each party has identified potential, nonparty witnesses who will be inconvenienced by having to travel to a district forum to testify in this action. However, sheer numbers alone do not accurately reflect the full extent of the "witness convenience" factor. Bally Manufacturing, Inc. v. Kane, 698 F. Supp. 734, 738 (N.D.Ill. 1988). Rather, the Court must also consider the nature and quality of the testimony as well as whether the witnesses can be compelled to testify, as live testimony of material, nonparty witnesses is preferred. Id.
Pansophic plans to call a number of its employees, many of whom are Illinois residents, to substantiate its claims. Likewise, HCS plans to call a large number of its employees, most of whom reside in Texas, to support its defense. Generally, where witnesses are within the control of a particular party, it is likely that those witnesses will appear voluntarily. Such is the case when a party calls its employees as witnesses. Peach Tree Bancard Corp. v. Peach Tree Bancard Network, Inc., 706 F. Supp. 639, 640 (N.D.Ill. 1989). As a result, the convenience of employee-witnesses favors no particular forum. Each party's employee-witnesses will be inconvenienced by having to travel to another forum.
The Court is persuaded that this case should be transferred to the Southern District of Texas because of the convenience of the client witnesses who will be called to testify. Pansophic names twelve entities through whom HCS allegedly pirated Pansophic's software or to whom Pansophic allegedly made unauthorized sales. Of those twelve, six are located in Texas. None are located in Illinois. The other entities are located in Florida, New Mexico, Tennessee, California, New York, and Indiana. Thus, the majority of those entities are located more conveniently to Texas. Consequently, the balance of convenience strongly weighs in favor of transfer.
3. Interest of Justice
Transfer of this case will promote the interests of justice, which embrace traditional notions of judicial economy rather than the private interests of litigants and their witnesses. See Coffey, 796 F.2d at 221. First, a diversity case should be decided by a court which is most familiar with the applicable state law. Espino v. Top Draw Freight System, Inc., 713 F. Supp. 1243 (N.D.Ill. 1989). In this case, Illinois conflict of law principles dictate that because Texas is the state with the most significant relationship to the controversy, Texas law applies. Ingersoll v. Klein, 46 Ill. 2d 42, 262 N.E.2d 593 (1970). Naturally, the Texas court is more familiar with substantive Texas law than is this Court. As for HCS' alleged Illinois Trade Secret Act violation, Illinois law is not so unique as to be beyond the comprehension of the Texas court. The alleged Illinois Trade Secret Act violation is one count of six.
Moreover, the events bear little connection with this forum. The clients from whom HCS allegedly pirated software reside in a number of different states, none of which is Illinois; the employees HCS allegedly hired away worked for Genographics in New York and only two of the seventeen lived in Illinois; the training center where HCS employees were allegedly trained using information misappropriated from Pansophic is in Houston; and HCS' corporate office, where any decision to hire former Pansophic and Genographic employees would have been made, as well as any decision regarding potential clients or the training curriculum, is in Houston. The fact that Pansophic's corporate headquarters are in Illinois and that Pansophic purchased Genographic, does not outweigh the other factors favoring transfer.
For the reasons stated in this order, defendant HCS' motion to transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1404(a) is granted. This case is transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.