United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CONTRACT OFFICE INSTALLATIONS, INC. d/b/a SITELINE INTERIOR CARPENTRY, Plaintiff,
HOLLMAN, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE MARVIN E. ASPEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Contract Office Installations, Inc., d/b/a Siteline Interior
Company (“Siteline”) filed this breach of
contract action in the Circuit Court of Cook County,
Illinois, alleging Defendant Hollman, Inc.
(“Hollman”) failed to pay Siteline for work it
performed installing wood and laminate lockers in four
fitness facilities. (Notice of Removal (Dkt. No. 1).) Hollman
removed the case to federal court on May 18, 2017 and filed
its answer on June 8, 2017. (Dkt. Nos. 1, 8.) Presently
before us is Hollman's motion to transfer venue to the
United States District Court for the Northern District of
Texas, Dallas Division. (Mot. (Dkt. No. 12).) For the reasons
stated below, we deny Hollman's motion.
is a Texas corporation with its principal place of business
in Irving, Texas. (Notice of Removal ¶ 4; Compl. (Dkt.
No. 1-1) ¶ 2.) Hollman manufactures wood and laminate
lockers in Texas for various facilities, including fitness
centers, country clubs, and colleges. (Compl. ¶ 2;
Hollman Aff. (Dkt. No. 12-1) at 1.) Hollman sells the lockers
it manufacturers to various purchasers around the country.
(Hollman Aff. at 1.) Hollman arranges for the
delivery of the lockers, but it does not perform
installation. (Id.) In some instances, Hollman
contracts out the installation to independent contractors.
(Id. at 2.)
is a Midlothian, Illinois interior carpentry subcontractor
engaged in various construction projects in the Chicago area.
(Compl. ¶ 1.) As relevant here, Siteline entered into
contracts to install Hollman's lockers in connection with
construction projects at (1) the Los Angeles Valley College
Athletic Training Facility (“the LA Valley
Project”); (2) the Chicago Cubs' locker room at
Wrigley Field (the “Wrigley Project”); (3) Credit
Suisse in New York City (the ”Credit Suisse
Project”); and (4) the Naperville Park District in
Naperville, Illinois (the “Fort Hill Project”).
(Id. ¶ 4.) Siteline alleges it
contracted with Hollman for each project. (See Id.
Hollman asserts it entered into installation contracts with
Cal Installations, LLC (“Cal Installations”), a
Texas-based company, to furnish labor and materials in
connection with the installation of Hollman's lockers,
and Cal Installations subcontracted work for each of the
facilities to Siteline. (Jefferson Aff. (Dkt. No. 12-2) at
1.) Hollman contends it did not participate in the agreements
between Cal Installations and Siteline. (Mot. at 3.) It
asserts that the “majority of the communications
surrounding these agreements came in the form of agreements
between Cal Installations representative, Scott Jefferson,
and Siteline, where Siteline would send correspondence and
invoices to Cal Installations located in Texas.”
(Id.) Neither Cal Installations nor Jefferson is
named as a defendant.
brought suit against Hollman on March 14, 2017 in state
court, asserting claims for breach of contract and, in the
alternative, quantum meruit. It alleges that Hollman
required Siteline to furnish labor and materials for the LA
Valley, Wrigley, Credit Suisse, and Fort Hill Projects, and
despite performing all of its contractual duties, Hollman
failed to pay Siteline for all of the labor and materials it
provided. (Id. ¶¶ 15-54.) After removing
the case to federal court and filing its answer, Hollman
moved to transfer this action to the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Texas pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a). Hollman argues transfer would serve
the convenience of the parties and witnesses because the
operative facts giving rise to the litigation, the situs of
material events, the location of proof, and critical
witnesses all have a stronger connection to Texas than to
Siteline's chosen forum in Illinois. (Mot. at 1.) Hollman
also contends the interests of justice favor transfer.
(Id. at 2.)
September 26, 2017, we requested additional briefing on
Hollman's motion to transfer. (Dkt. No. 19.) Both parties
filed supplemental briefs in compliance with our Order on
October 16, 2017. (Dkt. Nos. 20-21.)
to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court may “for
the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice . . . transfer any civil action to any other district
or division where it might have been brought.” To
succeed on a motion to transfer under § 1404(a), the
defendant, as the moving party, bears the burden of showing
that: (1) venue is proper in the district where the action
was originally filed, (2) venue would be proper in the
transferee court, and (3) the transfer will serve the
convenience of the parties and witnesses as well as the
interests of justice. Republic Techs. (NA), LLC v. BBK
Tobacco & Foods, LLC, 240 F.Supp.3d 848, 851 (N.D.
Ill. 2016); Morton Grove Pharmss., Inc. v. Nat'l
Pediculosis Ass'n, 525 F.Supp.2d 1039, 1044 (N.D.
Ill. 2007); Graham v. United Parcel Serv., 519
F.Supp.2d 801, 809 (N.D. Ill. 2007). In deciding whether
transfer is proper under § 1404(a), we resolve factual
conflicts in the non-moving party's favor. Cinema
Sys., Inc. v. Lab Methods Corp., 545 F.Supp.
403, 405, n.4 (N.D. Ill. 1982); see also Middleby
Marshall, Inc. v. Enertex, Inc., No. 87 C 5338, 1987 WL
16906, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 9, 1987).
the parties do not dispute that venue is proper in both this
district and the transfer district; accordingly, we focus on
whether the transfer will serve the convenience of the
parties and witnesses and the interests of justice. Deciding
whether to transfer a case requires “flexible and
individualized analysis” based on the circumstances of
a particular case. Research Automation, Inc. v.
Schrader-Bridgeport Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 978
(7th Cir. 2010) (internal citations omitted); see also
Graham, 519 F.Supp.2d at 809. District courts determine
the weight given to each factor and have wide discretion in
deciding whether transfer is appropriate. N. Shore Gas
Co. v. Salomon Inc., 152 F.3d 642, 648 (7th Cir. 1998);
Tice v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 162 F.3d 966, 974 (7th
Cir. 1988); Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d
217, 219 (7th Cir. 1986).
party seeking transfer, Hollman has the burden to show that
“the transferee forum is clearly more convenient”
than the transferor forum. Heller Fin., Inc. v. Midwhey
Powder Co., Inc., 883 F.2d 1286, 1293 (7th Cir. 1989)
(internal citations omitted); Coffey, 796 F.2d at
219; Graham, 519 F.Supp.2d at 809. In deciding
whether transfer would promote convenience, courts consider
such factors as: “(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 parties; and (5) the convenience of witnesses.”
Morton Grove Pharms., 525 F.Supp.2d at 1044 (citing
Schwartz v. Nat'l Van Lines, Inc., 317 F.Supp.2d
829, 835 (N.D. Ill. 2004)); see also Graham, 519
F.Supp.2d at 809-10.