United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MICHAEL PRESTON, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR COMPANY, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
D. Leinenweber, Judge United States District Court
Michael Preston (“Preston”) brings this putative
class action against Defendant American Honda Motor Company,
Inc. (“Honda”) alleging breach of express
warranty, breach of implied warranty, violation of the
Magnusson-Moss Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq.,
and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive
Business Practices Act, 815 Ill. Comp. Stat. 505/1 et
seq. (the “ICFA”). Before the Court is
Honda's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, to
Transfer Venue [ECF No. 13]. For the reasons stated herein,
the Court grants the Motion to Transfer.
my problem? First of all, I'm a rat. Which
means, life is hard. Second, I have a highly
developed sense of taste and smell.” Remy,
Ratatouille, Disney Pixar Films (2007).
23, 2015, Preston leased a 2015 Honda Accord from an
authorized Honda dealer in Illinois. (ECF No. 1
(“Compl.”) ¶¶ 7, 30-31.) Written
warranties accompanied the lease, including a three-year or
36, 000-mile new vehicle limited warranty (the
“NVLW”). The NVLW warrants that Honda “will
repair or replace any part that is defective in material or
workmanship under normal use.” (Id.
¶¶ 9, 12.) However, it does not cover
“[n]ormal wear or deterioration of any part” or
“acts of nature.” (ECF No. 14 (“Def.'s
Mem.”) at Ex. 3.)
November 2016, Preston experienced a complete loss of power
steering while operating his Accord. (Compl. ¶¶ 13,
14.) After taking the car to a Honda-authorized service
center for diagnosis, “he discovered that the
Accord's electrical wiring, which Honda had covered with
soy-based material, had been chewed and/or eaten.”
(Id. ¶ 15.) Despite the fact that neither three
years nor 36, 000 miles had elapsed, Honda refused to cover
the repairs under the NVLW. (Id. ¶ 16.)
Instead, it “simply re-installed more soy-based
insulated wiring at Plaintiff's cost.”
(Id. ¶ 21; see also, Id. ¶ 23.)
contends that Honda deliberately chose to insulate the wiring
in certain of its more recent model-year Accords with a
biodegradable soy-based compound, instead of traditional
insulation, despite knowing that the former is particularly
appetizing to rodents and other critters. (Compl.
¶¶ 17-18.) By gnawing on the soy-based insulation,
these rodents expose the underlying wiring and can allegedly
induce vehicle malfunctions of the sort Preston experienced.
(Id. ¶ 2.) The gravamen of Preston's suit
is thus that Honda's manufacture of the Accords in
question with soy-based wiring and subsequent failure to
cover repairs violates state and federal warranty law.
(Id. ¶¶ 23-26.) Suing on behalf of a class
of similarly situated Illinois residents, Preston also
alleges that Honda's conduct amounts to a violation of
is not the first plaintiff to challenge Honda's use of
soy-based insulation in its vehicles' electrical wiring.
In Dobbs v. American Honda Motor Co., No. 16 C 456
(C.D. Cal. dismissed June 2, 2016), the plaintiffs were
lessees of 2012-15 model year Honda vehicles manufactured
with electrical wiring coated with soy-based insulation. They
alleged that this material attracts rodents and other animals
who chew through the insulation and electrical wires,
challenging Honda's decision to refuse to cover the
required repairs as a violation of the state consumer
protection statutes of the named plaintiffs' respective
states, breach of Honda's express warranty, breach of the
implied warranty of merchantability, and violation of the
federal Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act. However, the plaintiffs
voluntarily dismissed their claims without prejudice despite
having fully briefed Honda's motion to dismiss before the
presiding judge, Judge Manuel Real. (See, ECF No. 23
(“Def.'s Reply”) at Ex. 4.)
in McKown v. American Honda Motor Co., No. 17 C 204
(C.D. Cal. dismissed July 11, 2017), the plaintiffs alleged
that two pre-owned Accords, which they had purchased in 2016
from Kansas dealerships, “were rendered inoperable due
to rodents chewing through wiring in the fuel lines and the
transmission harness.” Id., ECF No. 47, slip
op. at 2. Honda told the plaintiffs that the damage was not
covered under warranty and charged them for the repairs.
Ibid. The plaintiffs brought claims, inter
alia, for violation of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act,
breach of implied and express warranty under California and
Kansas state law, and violation of California and Kansas
consumer protection law. Just prior to (and indeed on the
same day as) Judge Real's July 11, 2017 order dismissing
these claims for failure to give Honda fair notice, the
McKown plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary
dismissal. (See, Def.'s Reply at Ex. 2.)
moves to dismiss Preston's Complaint for failure to state
a claim or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the
Central District of California. The Court need not test the
legal sufficiency of Preston's Complaint because it finds
the case suitable for transfer to a court that is familiar
with the facts and law underlying this case, and thus better
situated to decide Honda's Motion to Dismiss.
1404(a) provides for transfer of “any civil action to
any other district or division where it might have been
brought” for “the convenience of parties and
witnesses, and in the interest of justice.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1404(a). The decision to transfer venue is a
discretionary one, requiring the Court to exercise “a
large degree of subtlety and latitude” in balancing a
number of factors for and against transfer. Coffey v. Van
Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219 (7th Cir. 1986);
see also, Research Automation, Inc. v.
Schrader-Bridgeport Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973,
977-78 (7th Cir. 2010). The moving party bears the burden of
demonstrating that the transferee district is “clearly
more convenient.” Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219-20.
transfer an action to another venue, the district court must
find that: (1) venue is proper in the district where the case
was brought; (2) venue and jurisdiction are proper in the
transferee district; (3) the transferee district is more
convenient for both the parties and witnesses; and (4)
transfer would serve the interest of justice. Rosen v.
Spirit Airlines, 152 F.Supp.3d 1055, 1059 (N.D. Ill.
2015) (citation omitted); see also, Research
Automation, 626 F.3d at 977-78.
party disputes the propriety of venue in this District.
(See, e.g., Compl. ¶ 4-6; Def.'s Mem. at
11.) With respect to the second factor, jurisdiction and
venue are proper in the Central District of California.
Honda's headquarters and principal place of business are
in Torrance, California (see, ECF No. 15
(“Oborny Decl.”) ¶¶ 2-8), which is
situated within the Western Division of the Central District
of California. See, Jurisdiction Map for the Central
District of California, available at
https://www.cacd.uscourts.gov/jurisdiction (last visited
Oct. 13, 2017). Ergo, Honda is subject to personal
jurisdiction there. Accepting Preston's allegations as
true yields the conclusion that that District would also have
subject matter jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). (See, Compl.
¶ 4.) Venue is similarly proper in that District
because, as recited throughout Preston's Complaint, a
substantial part of the events and omissions giving rise to
his claims occurred at Honda's headquarters. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1391(b). Satisfied with the first two venue transfer
conditions, the Court proceeds to balance the various factors
governing convenience of the parties and witnesses as well as
the interest of justice.
Convenience of the Parties and Witnesses
the convenience of one venue over another involves
consideration of four factors: (1) the plaintiff's choice
of forum; (2) the situs of material events; (3) the relative
ease of access to sources of proof; and (4) the convenience
of the parties and witnesses. Research Automation,
626 F.3d at 978. The Court takes each of these in turn and
concludes, after considering them all, that they ...