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Corvenga v. Spectra Medical

October 29, 2012

CORVENGA
v.
SPECTRA MEDICAL



Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Virginia M. Kendall than Assigned Judge

CASE TITLE

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

Defendant's motion to transfer [11] is granted. This case is hereby transferred to the District of Massachusetts, Delaware.

O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.

STATEMENT

Corvenga Stabilization Solutions ("Corvenga") filed suit against Spectra Medical Devices, Inc. ("Spectra") for breach of contract and seeking declaratory judgment. Spectra filed a number of counterclaims alleging violations of the Lanham Act, deceptive trade practices, and common law breach of contract. Spectra has moved for transfer to the District of Massachusetts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's motion is granted.

On June 15, 2012, Corvenga sued Spectra in this district for breach of contract under Illinois common law (Count I) and under the Uniform Commercial Code ("UCC"), 810 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. (Count II). Corvenga also seeks declaratory judgment determinations that Corvenga does not infringe any valid or enforceable United States patent owned by Spectra (Count III) and that Corvenga has not breached its contractual obligations (Count IV). On July 26, 2012, Spectra counterclaimed, alleging violations under §43 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) (Counts I-IV), deceptive trade practices under Massachusetts law, M.G.L. 266/91 (Count V), common law breach of contract (Count VI), and unfair and deceptive trade practices under Massachusetts law, M.G.L. 93A/2 & 11 (Count VII).

Corvenga is a Delaware corporation with its principle place of business in Chicago, Illinois. Spectra is a Massachusetts corporation having its principle place of business in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

Motions for transfer of venue are governed by the standards set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1404. Section 1404(a) provides: "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). In deciding a 1404(a) motion to transfer, the Court should consider a number of case-specific factors, such as the convenience of the potential transferee forum to the parties and witnesses, and the interest of justice in general. Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works,796 F.2d 217, 219 (7th Cir. 1986). This analysis "necessarily involves a large degree of subtlety and latitude," including the amount of weight to give each factor relative to the others. Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219. The party moving for a transfer of venue "has the burden of establishing, by reference to particular circumstances, that the transferee forum is clearly more convenient." Id. at 219--220. District courts have broad discretion to grant or deny a motion to transfer. See Heller Fin., Inc. v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1293 (7th Cir. 1989).

When determining the relative "convenience of the parties and witnesses" referenced in Section 1404 the Court considers the following factors: (1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the situs of material events; (3) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (4) the convenience of the witnesses; (5) and the convenience of the parties of litigating in respective forums. See, e.g, Millennium Prods., Inc. v. Gravity Boarding Co. Inc., 127 F. Supp. 2d 974, 980 (N.D. Ill. 2000).

Plaintiff's Choice of Forum

As a general rule, courts afford some deference to the plaintiff's choice of forum, particularly when the plaintiff resides in the district selected. First Nat'l Bank v. El Camino Res., Ltd., 447 F. Supp. 2d 902, 912 (N.D. Ill. 2006); Int'l Truck and Engine Corp. v. Dow-Hammond Trucks Co., 221 F. Supp. 2d 898, 904 (N.D. Ill. 2002). See also FDIC v. Citizens Bank & Trust Co., 592 F.2d 364, 368 (7th Cir. 1979). However, the plaintiff's choice is afforded less deference when the chosen forum is not the situs of material events. See Lewis v. Grote Indus., Inc., 841 F. Supp. 2d 1049, 1053 (N.D. Ill. 2012) ("The force of the plaintiff's choice is also diminished if the chosen forum has relatively weak connections with the operative facts giving rise to the claim.") (internal quotations omitted); accord Schumacher, 665 F. Supp. 2d at 977. Plaintiff's choice of forum is also given less deference in a declaratory judgment action. Hyatt Int'l. Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 718 (7th Cir. 2002). The rationale for this is that "but for [the plaintiff's] preemptive filing . . . [the case] would be in all respects [the defendant's] suit . . . ." Id. This is consistent with the Seventh Circuit's expressed wariness at the prospect of "a suit for declaratory judgment aimed solely at wrestling the choice of forum from the 'natural plaintiff.' " Id (quoting Allendale Mut. Ins. Co. v. Bull Data Sys., Inc, 10 F.3d 425, 431 (7th Cir. 1993).

In this case, Corvenga elected to file its action in the Northern District of Illinois, where it is currently headquartered and has its principal place of business, but only did so after receiving letters warning of potential infringement from Spectra. Although Corvenga may be the "natural plaintiff" with respect to its common law and UCC claims, the bulk of the issues in this litigation concern whether Corvenga violated U.S. Trademark laws when marketing and distributing the needles it acquired from Spectra, Therefore, although technically filed first, the resolution of Corvenga's claims ...


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