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Management Registry, Inc. v. Batinich

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

April 2, 2018

MANAGEMENT REGISTRY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MILAN BATINICH, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles P. Kocoras United States District Judge.

         Now before the Court is a motion from Defendant Milan Batinich (“Batinich”) comprised of three requests. First, Batinich requests the Court to strike Christin Good's December 14, 2017 Declaration from the record. Second, in light of the new record should his request to strike be granted, Batinich requests a Rule 54(b) reconsideration of our January 26, 2018 Order (“Order”) denying his motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Finally, Batinich asks the Court to reconsider the same Order's denial of his request to transfer the case to Minnesota. For the following reasons, we grant Batinich's motion to reconsider our Order denying his transfer request and order this suit to be transferred to the District of Minnesota. We deny as moot both Batinich's motion to strike Christin Good's December 14 Declaration and his motion to reconsider our Order declining to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.

         I. Reconsideration of Our Order Denying Transfer to Minnesota

         On January 26, 2018, the Court issued an Order in favor of Plaintiff Management Registry, Inc. (“M.R.I.”), denying Batinich's requests to dismiss this lawsuit (“Illinois action”) for lack of personal jurisdiction or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to a more appropriate venue in Minnesota pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). As to the transfer question, we denied Batinich's request in large part because “neither Batinich nor the Complaint suggest[ed] personal jurisdiction would lie for this controversy in Minnesota.” Our Order stated that Batinich made a “fatal mistake” by “devot[ing] no attention” to the question of whether venue and jurisdiction were proper in the District of Minnesota.

         An assortment of similar venue transfer tests have been promulgated in the Seventh Circuit and Northern District. In every case, the operative test requires that venue and jurisdiction lie in the transferee court. See Jaramillo v. DineEquity, Inc., 664 F.Supp.2d 908, 913 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (the second of four factors for venue transfer considerations requires that venue and jurisdiction lie in the transferee court) (citing Grossman v. Smart, 73 F.3d 364 (7th Cir. 1995)); Bryant v. ITT Corp., 48 F.Supp.2d 829, 832 (N.D. Ill. 1999) (in a three-prong test, the first factor mandates that venue be proper in both the transferor and transferee courts). As Batinich seemingly failed to address the threshold question regarding the propriety of the transferee court's jurisdiction and venue, the Court denied his request swiftly, declining to address the more discretionary § 1404(a) factors altogether. Indeed, we noted that Batinich may well have conceded that personal jurisdiction did not lie in his suggested transferee court when he stated in reply briefing that he “will not contest personal jurisdiction in the District of Minnesota.”

         Now, Batinich requests that we reconsider our Order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which reads in relevant part, “any order or other decision…that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties…may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment….” As “[t]ransfer orders…are not appealable final decisions, ” Hill v. Potter, 352 F.3d 1142, 1144 (7th Cir. 2003), reconsideration requests are best handled by a district court under Rule 54. “‘Motions for reconsideration serve a limited function; to correct manifest errors of law or facts or to present newly discovered evidence.'” Rothwell Cotton Co. v. Rosenthal & Co., 827 F.2d 246, 251 (7th Cir. 1987) (quoting Keene Corp. v. Int'l Fidelity Ins. Co., 561 F.Supp 656, 665 (N.D. Ill. 1982)). “[A] motion to reconsider is only appropriate where a court has misunderstood a party…made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented…made an error of apprehension (not of reasoning), where a significant change in the law has occurred, or where significant new facts have been discovered.” Broaddus v. Shield, 665 F.3d 846, 860 (7th Cir. 2011), overruled on other grounds by Hill v. Tangherlini, 724 F.3d 965 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Batinich insists that the Court “patent[ly] misunderst[ood]” his position when it took him to be conceding to a lack of personal jurisdiction in Minnesota. In his motion to reconsider, Batinich states, “That is not at all the impression [he] meant to create or what the facts in the record demonstrate.” Batinich maintains that by way of his comment suggesting that he would not contest personal jurisdiction in Minnesota, he intended to “assure the Court that even aside from the facts that established personal jurisdiction attached to Batinich [in Minnesota], he would have consented to jurisdiction even if jurisdiction did not otherwise attach (which it did).” According to Batinich, he only declined to directly address the viability of venue and jurisdiction in Minnesota “because he did not believe that this prong was in dispute.”

         M.R.I. offers robust responses to the other matters presently before the Court (the evidentiary viability of Christin Good's declaration and whether the Court should reconsider its prior ruling on personal jurisdiction in Illinois). M.R.I. declines, however, to address Batinich's request to reconsider our transfer ruling. While M.R.I.'s declination is surprising, it is only mildly so, as Batinich's suggestion that we misunderstood his position is buttressed by the record before us. The following evidence in the record appears uncontested:

i. Batinich currently works for A.W. Companies, a Minnesota company, with Minnesota customers and clients.
ii. Batinich has provided services for A.W. Companies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Texas.
iii. While working in Madison, Wisconsin, Batinich called an “emergency team meeting” with other employees of his former employer, M.R.I.
iv. Batinich's “emergency team meeting” is a focal point of M.R.I.'s Amended Complaint in a lawsuit filed in the District of Minnesota against A.W. Companies and its owners (“Minnesota action”). Mgmt. Registry, Inc. v. A.W. Cos., Inc., et al., No. 17-cv-5009, (D. Minn. 2017).
v. M.R.I. has informed Batinich's counsel that it intends to depose him in the Minnesota action.
vi. The presiding judge in the Minnesota action issued a since-vacated temporary restraining order that specifically ...

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