The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman Chief Judge, United States District Court
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF ARIZONA JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, Chief Judge:
For the reasons set forth below, "Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue to the District Court of Arizona for Consolidation" (Dkt. No. 89) is granted and this case is ordered transferred to the District of Arizona for all further proceedings.
PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND BACKGROUND The motion to transfer currently pending before this court involves two lawsuits: Macey & Aleman v. Simmons (N.D. Ill.) (Case. No. 10 C 6646) (Holderman, C.J.) (the "Illinois Action") and Macey & Aleman v. Davis Miles McGuire Gardner PLLC (D. Ariz.) (Case No. 12 C 1419) (Martone, J.) (the "Arizona Action").
In the Illinois Action, plaintiffs Macey & Aleman, Thomas G. Macey, and Jeffrey J. Aleman (collectively "Plaintiffs") allege that two former Macey & Aleman employees, defendants Carlene M. Simmons ("Simmons") and Elizabeth C. Kamper ("Kamper") (together "Defendants"), are liable for conversion (Count I), breach of employment and confidentiality agreements (Count II), breach of fiduciary duties (Count III), tortious interference with business expectancy (Count IV), and defamation (Count V), all arising from Defendants' conduct before and after they resigned from their employment with Macey & Aleman.
In the Arizona Action, the same three Plaintiffs allege that Simmons's and Kamper's new employer, Davis Miles McGuire Gardner PLLC ("Davis Miles"), is liable for conversion (Count
I), misappropriation of trade secrets (Count II), intentional interference with business expectancy and contractual relationships with clients (Count III), intentional interference with contractual relations with former employees (Count IV), and commercial defamation (Count V), again all with respect to the events surrounding Defendants' resignation from their employment with Macey & Aleman.
Macey & Aleman is a law firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with offices in twenty different states. Thomas G. Macey is the Owner and Managing Partner of Macey & Aleman, and Jeffrey J. Aleman is a Senior Partner with Macey & Aleman.
Simmons began working for Macey & Aleman's Phoenix office as an Associate Attorney on October 17, 2005. Simmons was later promoted to the position of the sole Managing Attorney for Macey & Aleman's Phoenix office on June 26, 2008. Kamper began working for Macey & Aleman's Phoenix office as an Associate Attorney on June 9, 2009. Simmons and Kamper each resigned from their employment with Macey & Aleman on July 2, 2010.
Plaintiffs initially filed the Illinois Action in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division, on September 10, 2010. Defendants removed the Illinois Action to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on October 25, 2010, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, before moving on November 30, 2010, to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. This court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss on April 14, 2011, concluding that "Simmons and Kamper have waived their ability to contest personal jurisdiction in this court by agreeing to the forum selection clauses in the Employment and Confidentiality Agreements." (Dkt. No. 18 ("4/14/11 Order") at 14.)*fn1
On November 10, 2011, Macey & Aleman filed their First (Corrected) Amended Complaint (Dkt. No. 56 ("Am. Compl.")) in the Illinois Action, which added claims against Davis Miles for conversion (Count I), tortious interference with business expectancy (Count IV), and defamation (Count V). Davis Miles moved to dismiss the claims brought against it for lack of personal jurisdiction, and the court granted Davis Miles's motion on February 15, 2012. (Dkt. No. 74.) On June 29, 2012, Plaintiffs filed the Arizona Action.
Defendants seek transfer of the Illinois Action to the District of Arizona pursuant to 28 U.S. § 1404(a). Section 1404(a) provides that "[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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented." 28 U.S. § 1404(a). "A court may transfer a case under 1404(a) if the moving party demonstrates that (1) venue is proper in the transferor district; (2) the transferee district is one where the action might have been brought (both venue and jurisdiction are proper); and (3) the transfer will serve the convenience of parties and witnesses and will serve the interest of justice." CoStar Realty Info., Inc. v. CIVIX-DDI, LLC, No. 12 C 4968, 2012 WL 5077728, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 18, 2012) (Holderman, C.J.) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Defendants, as the movants, have 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, 219-220 (7th Cir. 1986).
In light of the court's April 14, 2011 order and the relevant forum selection clauses in the Employment and Confidentiality Agreements, the parties do not at this point in the litigation dispute that venue for the Illinois Action is proper in the Northern District of Illinois. It is also undisputed that "a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the [Illinois Action's] claim[s]" occurred in Arizona, and that both Defendants reside there, suggesting that venue for the Illinois Action is also proper ...