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PAVA v. DROM INT'L

June 4, 1998

BARRY PAVA, Plaintiff,
v.
DROM INTERNATIONAL, INC., a Delaware Corporation, and DROM FRAGRANCES INTERNATIONAL, a/k/a Dr. O. Martens Nachf, KG, a foreign corporation, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 BUCKLO, District Judge.

 The plaintiff, Barry Pava, sued defendants, Drom International, Inc. ("Drom International") and Drom Fragrances International ("DFI"), alleging breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and fraud. Drom International and DFI move to transfer the case to the District of New Jersey pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1404(a). For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

 Background

 On July 21, 1997, Barry Pava filed suit against Drom International and DFI in the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. Mr. Pava is a resident of Illinois and lives in DuPage County, Illinois. DFI is a German corporation in the business of manufacturing, marketing, and selling fragrance oils and bases. Drom International is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DFI. The defendants removed the case to the Northern District of Illinois based on diversity jurisdiction. Mr. Pava is a chemist by training and was, in 1995, working in Illinois as a chemical salesman for Florasynth Company. (Pava Aff. PP 2-3). In February, 1995, Mr. Pava was contacted by John Dennis, Vice President of Sales for Drom International, about becoming a salesman for Drom International in the Midwest. (Pava Aff. P 3). Mr. Dennis traveled to Illinois to meet Mr. Pava and discuss employment opportunities with Drom International. In April, 1995, Mr. Pava traveled to New Jersey to tour Drom International's facilities and meet with its President, Michael Kettenring. (Pava Aff. P 3). While Drom International suggests Mr. Pava negotiated a contract during his New Jersey visit (Gambardella Aff. P 5), Mr. Pava declares he only spent a few hours touring the facility and did not negotiate a contract. (Pava Aff. P 3). Mr. Pava states Mr. Dennis returned to Illinois in May, 1995, to negotiate an employment contract. (Pava Aff. P 3). Mr. Pava declares he negotiated the final terms of his employment contract with Mr. Kettenring in Illinois in June, 1995. (Pava Aff. P 4). *fn1"

 In August, 1995, Mr. Pava joined Drom International as Vice-President, Midwest Sales, and Worldwide Coordinator for Proctor & Gamble. While employed for Drom International, Mr. Pava worked out of his Illinois office, which Drom International alleges was also his home. (Pava Aff. P 6; Gambardella Aff. P 9). In at least one publication Drom International listed Mr. Pava's Illinois office as a Drom International corporate office. (Pava Aff. P 6; Ex. A-3). Mr. Pava states he spent sixty percent of his time with clients in Illinois and the remainder with clients in the Midwest. (Pava Aff. P 7). He traveled to New Jersey for general sales meetings and to other locations, both domestic and international, for various meetings. Id.

 Mr. Pava alleges that on October 24, 1996, he received a telephone call from DFI's President informing him his employment with Drom International was terminated. (Pava Aff. P 8). This suit followed.

 Motion to Change Venue

 Under Section 1404(a), a court may transfer a case if the moving party shows that: (1) venue was proper in the transferor district, (2) venue and jurisdiction would be proper in the transferee district, and (3) the transfer will serve the convenience of the parties and the witnesses as well as the interests of justice. Rohde v. Central R.R. of Indiana, 951 F. Supp. 746, 747 (N.D. Ill. 1997). Mr. Pava challenges the defendants' ability to meet the second and third prongs of the transfer requirements. For purposes of this motion, I will assume the defendants can meet the second prong and will focus on the third prong.

 A. Considerations of Convenience

 DFI and Drom International, as the moving parties, bear the burden of demonstrating that the "transferee forum is clearly more convenient" than the transferor forum. Heller Fin., Inc. v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1293 (7th Cir. 1989) (citing Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-220 (7th Cir. 1986)). Considerations include the plaintiff's choice of forum, the convenience of the parties and witnesses, and the location of documents and sources of proof. Chemical Waste Management, Inc. v. Sims, 870 F. Supp. 870, 876 (N.D. Ill. 1994). Transfer is inappropriate if it will simply shift the inconvenience of one party to the other. Id. Because each case requires an individualized balancing of the factors involved, the decision to transfer is committed to the discretion of the Court. Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219.

 1. Plaintiff's Choice of Forum

 The plaintiff's choice of forum is entitled to substantial weight under Section 1404(a), especially if it is also the plaintiff's home forum. Gallery House, Inc. v. Yi, 587 F. Supp. 1036, 1040 (N.D. Ill. 1984) (citing Piper Aircraft v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 70 L. Ed. 2d 419, 102 S. Ct. 252 (1981)). Indeed, the balance must weigh strongly in the defendant's favor before a plaintiff's choice of forum will be disturbed. Chemical Waste, 870 F. Supp. at 876 (citations ...


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