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Simonian v. Hunter Fan Co.

October 7, 2010

THOMAS A. SIMONIAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HUNTER FAN COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge

Defendant Hunter Fan Company ("Defendant" or "Hunter") has moved to transfer venue to the Western District of Tennessee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Based on the Court's review of the relevant factors, Defendant's motion to transfer venue to the Western District of Tennessee is granted.

BACKGROUND

I. Procedural History

Defendant Hunter Fan Company ("Defendant" or "Hunter") is a Delaware corporation with its headquarters and operations located in Memphis, Tennessee. Hunter manufactures and distributes home comfort products, including thermostats, which it markets for sale worldwide. Plaintiff Thomas Simonian ("Plaintiff") resides in Geneva, Illinois.

On February 23, 2010, Plaintiff Thomas Simonian filed the present qui tam lawsuit alleging that Hunter intentionally marked certain of its products*fn1 with United States Patent No. 4,911,358 (the "'358 Patent") in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 292. Approximately three hours before Plaintiff filed his complaint, Patent Compliance Group, Inc. ("PCG"), a Texas corporation, filed a similar qui tam lawsuit against Hunter alleging false patent marking under 35 U.S.C. § 292. Among PCG's allegations are false patent marking claims relating to Hunter products marked with the '358 Patent. (R. 32-3, PCG Compl. at ¶ 36.)

PCG filed its lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas. On June 7, 2010, that court transferred venue to the Western District of Tennessee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Patent Compliance Group, Inc. v. Hunter Fan Co., No. 10 C 0359 (N.D. Tex. June 7, 2010). In its motion before the Court, Hunter requests that the Court also transfer venue of this case to the Western District of Tennessee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (R. 31, Def.'s Mot. to Transfer.)

II. Factual Background

Hunter is a Delaware corporation that is headquartered in Tennessee. Hunter designs, develops, and sells home products including thermostats, fans, and air purifiers. Hunter conducts its operations in Memphis, and it maintains its production, packaging and distribution facilities in the Memphis area. Approximately 250 Hunter employees reside in and around Memphis. (R. 32, Def.'s Mem. at 3.)

Plaintiff resides in the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiff alleges that Hunter has been marking at least four of its thermostats with a patent that expired on November 29, 2008, and that Hunter is selling those falsely marked products within the District. (R. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 2, 8.) Plaintiff specifically claims that Hunter has intentionally marked its products with the now-expired '358 Patent "in an attempt to prevent competitors from entering the market and for the purpose of deceiving the public into believing that something contained in or embodied in the products is covered by or protected by the '358 Patent." (R. 1, Compl. ¶ 19.)

LEGAL STANDARD

"For 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."

28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Transfer is appropriate where the moving party demonstrates the following: (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. Vandeveld v. Christoph, 877 F. Supp. 1160, 1167 (N.D. Ill. 1995). The movant bears the burden of establishing, by reference to particular circumstances, that the transferee forum is clearly more convenient. Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-20 (7th Cir. 1986). In assessing a motion to transfer, the Court must consider the statutory factors in light of all of the circumstances of the case. Id. The Court is not limited to the allegations in the complaint and may consider affidavits in addressing the motion to transfer. See, e.g., ...


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