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Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. Eagle Equity Service

June 17, 2010

HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE CO. PLAINTIFF,
v.
EAGLE EQUITY SERVICE AND AAA HOME FINANCE CORP. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning District Judge

Judge Blanche Manning

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendant AAA Home Finance Corporation ("AAA") moves this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to transfer jurisdiction of this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. For the reasons set forth below, this motion is granted.

I. Relevant Facts

Plaintiff Hartford Fire Insurance Company ("Hartford"), a Connecticut company with its principal place of business in Connecticut, brings this action for declaratory relief against defendants Eagle Equity Service ("Eagle"), a New York corporation with its principal place of business in New York, and AAA, an Illinois company with its principal place of business in Illinois. Hartford is seeking a declaratory judgment that it has no duty to defend or indemnify Eagle in connection with a class action lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, under the caption, AAA Home Finance Corp. v. Eagle Equity Service, Inc., Case No. 07 CH 35070 (the "underlying lawsuit").

In the underlying lawsuit, AAA alleges that Eagle sent unsolicited fax advertisements to AAA and at least 39 other recipients. According to AAA, Eagle's conduct violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, constituted conversion of AAA's and the putative class members' fax machines, paper (or ink cartridges), toner, and employee time, and constituted an unfair practice under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/2.

Hartford issued insurance policies to Eagle for the period of October 22, 2002, to October 23, 2003, and thereafter renewed the policy annually through October 22, 2007. Eagle tendered its defense in the underlying lawsuit to Hartford on August 27, 2009. Hartford subsequently filed this declaratory judgment action seeking to deny coverage to Eagle for the defense and indemnity of the underlying lawsuit. On March 11, 2010, this court entered a default against Eagle in the declaratory judgment action.

The disputed insurance policies were solicited, negotiated, delivered and executed in New York. Eagle submitted its coverage claims in New York, and Hartford denied the coverage claims in New York. Further, both Hartford and AAA agree that New York state law will govern the resolution of the declaratory judgment action.

II. Legal Analysis

A. Legal Standard For Motion To Transfer Venue

Section 1404(a) provides: "[f]or 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." Thus, a transfer is possible if: (1) venue is proper in both the transferor and transferee courts; (2) transfer will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses; and (3) transfer is in the interest of justice. See Boyd v. Snyder, 44 F. Supp. 2d 966, 968 (N.D. Ill. 1999). Further, the transferor court retains discretion as to whether to transfer the case. Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-20 (7th Cir. 1986). The party moving for transfer has the burden of showing that the transferee forum is "clearly more convenient" than the transferor forum. Id.

B. Venue Is Proper In Both The Northern District Of Illinois And The Eastern District of New York

The parties agree that venue is proper in both this court and the Eastern District of New York. AAA is the party seeking the transfer to New York, and has waived any objection to personal jurisdiction in New York. Therefore, the court proceeds to an analysis of the second factor, ...


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