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Moore v. Magiera Diesel Injection Services, Inc.

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

June 17, 2019

STEVEN MOORE, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
v.
MAGIERA DIESEL INJECTION SERVICES, INC., Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff, and M SQUARED ENTERPRISES, INC., Plaintiff, and REVIVA, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GARY FEINERMAN JUDGE

         Steven Moore and his business M Squared Enterprises, Inc. (together, “Moore”) sued diesel repair and auto parts shop Magiera Diesel Injection Services, Inc. and auto parts manufacturer Reviva, Inc., alleging violations of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”), 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq., and state law in connection with a series of repairs to Moore's truck. Doc. 4. Magiera moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Civil Rule 12(b)(2) or improper venue under Rule 12(b)(3) or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Northern District of Indiana under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Doc. 25. Because the § 1404(a) issue is far easier to resolve than the personal jurisdiction or venue issues, the court exercises its discretion under Sinochem International Co. v. Malaysia International Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422 (2007), to first address § 1404(a), see In re LimitNone, LLC, 551 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2008), and transfers the suit to the Northern District of Indiana.

         Background

          In resolving a § 1404(a) motion, the court accepts the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, as supplemented by the parties' evidentiary materials, and draws all reasonable inferences in Moore's favor. See Deb v. SIRVA, Inc., 832 F.3d 800, 808-09 (7th Cir. 2016). The facts are set forth as favorably to Moore as the relevant materials permit. See ibid. In setting forth the facts at this stage, the court does not vouch for their “objective truth.” Goldberg v. United States, 881 F.3d 529, 531 (7th Cir. 2018).

         Moore, a resident of Dolton, Illinois, owns a 2003 Dodge Ram 3500 truck that he uses for business and personal purposes. Doc. 4 at ¶¶ 1, 7, 18. His business, M Squared, is located in Hazel Crest, Illinois. Id. at ¶ 1. Magiera operates a truck repair and parts shop in Crown Point, Indiana, some 30 miles from both Moore's home in Dolton and M Squared's location in Hazel Crest. Id. at ¶ 3; Doc. 43 at 7.

         On July 1, 2016, Moore dropped off his truck for repairs at Magiera, complaining of an unusual noise. Doc. 4 at ¶¶ 13-14. Moore provided Magiera with his Illinois address and telephone number. Doc. 43 at 8. The next day, a Magiera mechanic named Mark told Moore over the phone that the truck needed a new motor, and Moore gave Mark permission to perform a “leak down.” Doc. 4 at ¶ 16. Mark called later that day to report that the leak down revealed defects in two cylinders that required rebuilding the engine. Id. at ¶ 17. Moore said he would consider the repair but that he needed to use the truck in the meantime. Id. at ¶¶ 18-19.

         When Moore retrieved the truck from Magiera some twenty-four hours after dropping it off, every dashboard warning light was illuminated and the truck had so little power that Moore had to put it in neutral at every stoplight to keep it from stalling. Id. at ¶ 20. Moore knew that he would lose money every day the truck was out of commission, so he felt pressure to bring it back to Magiera for the repair that Mark had recommended. Id. at ¶ 22. Mark agreed to repair the truck for $9, 000 plus installation costs, and he told Moore the job would be done in two weeks. Id. at ¶¶ 21, 24.

         Three weeks later, Mark called Moore and told him that six injectors had to be replaced at a cost of $2, 800. Id. at ¶ 24. Moore alleges that Mark damaged the injectors during the leak down, or that Mark replaced the original injectors with faulty ones to inflate repair costs, or that the engine was never defective and the faulty injectors alone caused his car trouble. Id. at ¶ 25. Moore authorized the additional repair, which took another week. Id. at ¶ 26. When Moore reclaimed the truck, Mark presented him with a warranty from Reviva, a Minnesota business that designed and manufactured the remanufactured engine. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 12, 27.

         The truck broke down two weeks later. Mark sent a tow truck to Illinois to retrieve it and, upon inspection, determined that it would need a new starter at a cost of $600. Id. at ¶ 28; Doc. 43 at 8. Moore warned Mark that oil had begun to pool around the oil filler cap, but Mark told him that the liquid was power steering fluid. Doc. 4 at ¶ 28. Two weeks after Mark replaced the starter, one of Moore's drivers reported that the truck was making noise and was low on oil. Id. at ¶ 29. Moore took the truck back to Magiera. Ibid. After two weeks, Mark told Moore that he could not fix the truck and that the engine's warranty would not be honored. Id. at ¶ 30.

         Discussion

         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). Transfer under § 1404(a) “is appropriate if: (1) venue is proper in both the transferor and transferee court; (2) transfer is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses; and (3) transfer is in the interest of justice.” Law Bulletin Publ'g Co. v. LRP Publ'ns, Inc., 992 F.Supp. 1014, 1017 (N.D. Ill. 1998); see also Atl. Marine Constr. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 571 U.S. 49, 62 (2013) (“In the typical case …, a district court considering a § 1404(a) motion … must evaluate both the convenience of the parties and various public-interest considerations.”); Research Automation, Inc. v. Schrader-Bridgeport Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 978 (7th Cir. 2010) (“The statutory language … is broad enough to allow the court to take into account all factors relevant to convenience and/or the interests of justice.”). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that a transfer is clearly warranted. See Heller Fin., Inc. v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1293 (7th Cir. 1989); Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-20 (7th Cir. 1986). “The weighing of factors for and against transfer necessarily involves a large degree of subtlety and latitude, and, therefore, is committed to the sound discretion of the trial judge.” Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219.

         As to the first step of the transfer analysis, venue is proper in the Northern District of Indiana, the proposed transferee court, because “a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” in that District. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). Moore argues that the Northern District of Indiana is an improper venue for his MMWA claim because the Act permits a consumer “to bring a suit where he claims to be ‘damaged by the failure of a supplier, warrantor, or service contractor to comply with any obligation under this [Act] or under a written warranty, implied warranty, or service contract.'” Doc. 43 at 12-13 (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)) (internal quotation marks added). The language just quoted from Moore's brief comes directly from Voelker v. Porsche Cars North America, Inc., 353 F.3d 516, 522 (7th Cir. 2003). In context, it is clear that Voelker used the word “where” to mean “in a factual scenario in which, ” not “in the physical location in which.” Indeed, the portion of the MMWA quoted in Voelker has nothing to do with venue; rather, it provides consumers with a cause of action and defines federal jurisdiction over their claims. See 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d).

         The next step in the 1404(a) analysis looks to convenience. The convenience factors include: “(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; and (5) the convenience [of] the parties.” Law Bulletin Publ'g, 992 F.Supp. at 1017. The first factor favors this District. A plaintiff's choice of forum typically deserves “substantial weight, particularly when it is his home forum, ” Baker v. Smith & Wesson Corp., 2019 WL 277714, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 22, 2019), and this District is Moore's home forum.

         The remaining convenience factors overwhelmingly favor the Northern District of Indiana. First, nearly all material events occurred in Indiana. Granted, Moore's truck allegedly broke down in Illinois and he received the allegedly fraudulent phone calls there. But those minor Illinois connections pale in comparison to the case's connections with Indiana, where all the repair work was performed, where the offending engine was ...


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