Campbell v. Campbell et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order Signed by the Honorable Elaine E. Bucklo on 2/3/2017. Mailed notice. (mgh, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
DAWN EDYTHE CAMPBELL,
KENNETH R. CAMPBELL, and
Case No. 16 C 8005
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Dawn Campbell (“plaintiff”) has sued her former
spouse, Kenneth Campbell (“defendant”), and his company,
Campbell Professional Services LLC (“the company”) for
defamation.1 Defendant has moved to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. In the alternative, he moves pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a) to transfer the venue to the District of
Minnesota.2 For the reasons below, the motion is denied.
Although there are numerically two defendants -- Mr. Campbell
and his company -- Campbell is the company’s sole member and
owner, see Aff. of Kenneth Campbell, Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss, Ex.
B ¶ 5, and only he only is alleged to have directly engaged in
tortious conduct. For these reasons, the discussion that follows
focuses chiefly on Campbell, and I therefore refer to him as
The title of defendant’s motion purportedly seeks transfer
based on forum non conveniens. As the Seventh Circuit has
explained, the “common law doctrine of forum non conveniens has
Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that she and defendant
divorced in 2004. In July 2015, she moved from Minnesota to
Illinois to take a job with Inland Real Estate Investment
Corporation (“Inland”). In January 2016, defendant sent a series
of emails to Inland containing allegedly defamatory statements
about plaintiff. Defendant states (and plaintiff does not
dispute) that he authored and sent the messages from Shoreview,
Minnesota. Among other things, the emails state that plaintiff
had previously “sold securities without a license for many
years” and had “perpetrated fraud against [i]nvestors” while
working for a former employer. See Compl. Ex. D. Defendant also
stated that plaintiff was a “bad gambler,” was “not creditworthy,” and was a “high-risk person.” Id. The first of the
messages was submitted to Inland via Inland’s website. Two
subsequent messages were sent directly to the email account of
continuing application in federal courts only in cases where the
alternative forum is a foreign one. Otherwise, if the issue is
one of convenience within the United States federal court
system, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow for transfer,
rather than dismissal, when a sister federal court is the more
convenient forum.” Deb v. SIRVA, Inc., 832 F.3d 800, 805 n.2
(7th Cir. 2016). Since defendant seeks transfer of the suit to
Minnesota rather than dismissal and refiling in a foreign
country, the doctrine of forum non conveniens is not applicable
here. In the body of his brief, defendant addresses only the
requirements for transfer pursuant to the federal change-ofvenue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1404, and does not mention the forum
non conveniens doctrine.
plaintiff’s superior, Rod Curtis (“Curtis”). In addition,
defendant sent complaints about plaintiff to the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory
Authority (FINRA). Defendant does not deny sending the messages.
He denies that the statements are defamatory, however, because
he claims that they are true.
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
Defendant first argues that plaintiff’s complaint should be
dismissed because this court lacks personal jurisdiction over
him and his company. “The plaintiff has the burden of
establishing personal jurisdiction, and where, as here, the
issue is raised by a motion to dismiss and decided on the basis
of written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, the
plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional
facts.” Tamburo v. Dworkin, 601 F.3d 693, 700 (7th Cir. 2010).
At this stage, therefore, I “take as true all well-pleaded facts
alleged in the complaint and resolve any factual disputes in the
affidavits in favor of the plaintiff.” Id.3
Typically, “once the defendant has submitted affidavits or
other evidence in opposition to the exercise of jurisdiction,
the plaintiff must go beyond the pleadings and submit
affirmative evidence supporting the exercise of jurisdiction.”
Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773,
782-83 (7th Cir. 2003). Here, plaintiff has not submitted an
affidavit in response to defendant’s motion. This is ultimately
of no consequence, however, because the averments in the
“Courts recognize two types of personal jurisdiction:
general and specific.” Kipp v. Ski Enter. Corp. of Wisconsin,
783 F.3d 695, 697 (7th Cir. 2015). “General jurisdiction is
‘all-purpose’; it exists only ‘when the [party’s] affiliations
with the State in which suit is brought are so constant and
pervasive as to render it essentially at home in the forum
State.’” Id. (quoting Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746, 751
(2014)). “Specific jurisdiction is case-specific; the claim must
be linked to the activities or contacts with the forum.” Id.
Here, plaintiff argues only that the court has specific
personal jurisdiction over defendant. Specific personal
jurisdiction is established where three conditions are met: “(1)
the defendant must have purposefully availed himself of the
privilege of conducting business in the forum state or
purposefully directed his activities at the state; (2) the
alleged injury must have arisen from the defendant’s forumrelated activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must
comport with traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.” Felland v. Clifton, 682 F.3d 665, 673 (7th Cir. 2012)
(citations omitted). I consider each of these requirements in
defendant’s affidavit are either conclusory or, even if true, do
not affect whether personal jurisdiction is proper here.
The Seventh Circuit has “distilled three requirements ...
for determining whether conduct was purposefully directed at the
forum state: (1) intentional conduct (or intentional and
allegedly tortious conduct); (2) expressly aimed at the forum
state; (3) with the defendant’s knowledge that the effects would
be felt -- that is, the plaintiff would be injured -- in the
forum state.” Id. at 674-75 (quotation marks omitted).
These requirements are met here. There can be no question
that defendant acted intentionally in composing and sending the
emails. It is likewise clear that defendant’s conduct was
expressly aimed at Illinois. He sent the emails directly to
Inland, which is located in Illinois. And defendant knew (or at
least intended) that plaintiff would be injured in Illinois. Cf.
Compl. Ex. B, Email from Kenneth Campbell to Dawn Campbell (Jan.
25, 2016) (“[A] good fate for you would be panhandling on the
streets of Chicago. Then you could compete with rats like
you.”). The purpose of his messages was clearly to bring her
into disrepute with her employer and to get her fired.
Defendant argues that his conduct was not expressly
directed toward Illinois because he did not know where Curtis
lived or where he would open the emails. See Defs.’ Mot. to
Dismiss, Ex. B, Kenneth Campbell Aff. ¶ 14 (“As to the
communications and emails I sent to Inland Real Estate
Corporation, I had no personal knowledge as to where those
communications or emails would be received or opened by Rod
Curtis or any other representative of Inland Real Estate
Corporation.”). He argues that under Advanced Tactical Ordnance
Systems, LLC v. Real Action Paintball, Inc., 751 F.3d 796 (7th
Cir. 2014), the fact that the email might have been opened
anywhere means that he did not expressly aim his conduct at
Illinois. Advanced Tactical was a trademark infringement suit in
which the defendant, Real Action, was alleged to have sent two
misleading emails to a list of subscribers. The plaintiff argued
that specific personal jurisdiction could be exercised over Real
Action in Indiana based on the fact that Indiana residents were
among the emails’ recipients. The court disagreed, stating:
The fact that Real Action maintains an email list to
allow it to shower past customers and other
subscribers with company-related emails does not show
a relation between the company and Indiana. Such a
relation would be entirely fortuitous, depending
wholly on activities out of the defendant’s control.
As a practical matter, email does not exist in any
location at all; it bounces from one server to
another, it starts wherever the account-holder is
sitting when she clicks the “send” button, and it
winds up wherever the recipient happens to be at that
instant. The connection between the place where an
email is opened and a lawsuit is entirely fortuitous.
We note as well that it is exceedingly common in
today’s world for a company to allow consumers to sign
up for an email list. We are not prepared to hold that
this alone demonstrates that a defendant made a
substantial connection to each state (or country)
associated with those persons’ “snail mail”
Id. at 803.
The communications in this case bear little similarity to
those in Advanced Tactical. Inland was not one of a long list of
email recipients located throughout the country. Defendant sent
the messages in question specifically and (with the exception of
the SEC and FINRA complaints) exclusively to Inland. His contact
with Illinois was not fortuitous and was entirely within his
control. The bare possibility that Curtis might have opened and
read the emails in another state does nothing to change this
fact. See, e.g., Felland, 682 F.3d at 676 n.3 (“Of course, email
accounts can generally be accessed in any state, so it may not
make much sense to say that they were sent to a Wisconsin
address. Nevertheless ... [defendant] purposefully sent these
emails to Wisconsin residents knowing that they would most
likely be read and have their effect in Wisconsin. This manner
of communication is similar to mailed letters or telephone
calls, so the emails are properly considered as contributing to
[defendant’s] minimum contacts with the forum state.”)
(quotation marks omitted). In any case, while two of the
defamatory emails were sent to Curtis’s email account, the first
was submitted to Inland directly via Inland’s website. Thus,
even if Curtis might have accessed or opened the emails in a
location other than Illinois, there is no reason to believe that
the first message was opened anywhere other than Illinois.4
Defendant points out that the first message does not
I conclude that the purposeful-direction requirement is met
Defendant’s Forum-Related Activities
Specific personal jurisdiction is proper only where the
“relation between the defendant and the forum [arises] out of
contacts that the defendant himself creates with the forum....
Contacts between the plaintiff or other third parties and the
forum do not satisfy this requirement.” Advanced Tactical, 751
F.3d at 801 (citation and quotation marks omitted). Here,
defendant’s contact with Illinois resulted from his own actions.
This is not a case in which a defendant posted defamatory
statements on a website that was accessed through the online
activity of others. See, e.g., Shrader v. Biddinger, 633 F.3d
1235, 1241 (10th Cir. 2011) (“The maintenance of a web site does
not in and of itself subject the owner or operator to personal
jurisdiction, even for actions relating to the site, simply
because it can be accessed by residents of the forum state.”).
specifically mention plaintiff by name. Despite defendant’s
suggestion to the contrary, this does not mean that the
communication cannot be defamatory or even defamatory per se.
The Seventh Circuit has specifically held that “a federal
plaintiff can proceed with a per se defamation claim based on a
statement that does not directly name her if she can identify
enough ‘similarities’ that ‘a reasonable person in the community
[could] believe that [the statement] was intended to ... refer
to [her].’” Rivera v. Allstate Ins. Co., 140 F. Supp. 3d 722,
729 (N.D. Ill. 2015) (quoting Muzikowski v. Paramount Pictures
Corp., 322 F.3d 918, 926 (7th Cir. 2003)). Whether such
similarities can be found in the first message pertains to the
merits of plaintiff’s claim and is not at issue here.
Nor is this a case in which the defendant’s emails were
originally received in other states or locations and
subsequently forwarded to Illinois. See, e.g., Headstrong Corp.
v. Jha, No. CIVA 305CV813-HEH, 2007 WL 1238621, at *4 (E.D. Va.
Apr. 27, 2007) (no personal jurisdiction where defamatory emails
were not expressly directed at Virginia, but instead were merely
re-published in Virginia “after being forwarded by innumerable
individuals from India across the world”). The messages in
question were sent directly to Illinois by the defendant
himself. Hence, the requirement that the plaintiff’s injuries be
the result of the defendant’s forum-related activities is met
Fair Play & Substantial Justice
The final question is whether traditional notions of fair
play and substantial justice would be offended if the defendant
were haled into court in this district. In conducting this
inquiry, courts take account of several factors, including “the
burden on the defendant, the forum State’s interest in
adjudicating the dispute, the plaintiff’s interest in obtaining
convenient and effective relief, the interstate judicial
system’s interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of
controversies, and the shared interest of the several States in
furthering fundamental substantive social policies.” Felland,
682 F.3d at 677 (quotation marks omitted). “[W]here a defendant
who purposefully has directed his activities at forum residents
seeks to defeat jurisdiction, he must present a compelling case
that the presence of some other considerations would render
jurisdiction unreasonable.” Id. (quotation marks omitted).
Defendant has not discussed why it would be unreasonable in
light of these factors (or any others) to exercise jurisdiction
over him in Illinois. He asserts only that “[f]air play and
substantial justice require more than a mere fortuitous opening
of an email.” Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss at 10. As already
explained, there was nothing fortuitous about where defendant’s
emails were sent to or received. An individual who sends to
another person’s employer messages like the ones at issue here
can reasonably expect to be haled into court where the messages
In short, all three of the conditions necessary for
specific personal jurisdiction are present here. Other courts
have found specific personal jurisdiction proper over a
defendant based on facts similar to those here. See Strabala v.
Zhang, No. 15 C 1228, 2016 WL 6822664, at *21 (N.D. Ill. Nov.
18, 2016) (personal jurisdiction over Chinese citizens who sent
defamatory emails to plaintiff’s business and professional
associates, including recipients in Chicago); Hoffman v. Bailey,
996 F. Supp. 2d 477, 481 (E.D. La. 2014) (personal jurisdiction
proper based on defendant’s defamatory email to an employee of
the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office while
plaintiffs were in the process of applying for Louisiana
historic rehabilitation tax credits on the Property.); Nw.
Voyagers, LLC v. Libera, No. CV09-378-C-EJL, 2009 WL 3418199, at
*6 (D. Idaho Oct. 19, 2009) (“Given this case law, the Court
finds that the Defendants’ dissemination of the allegedly
defamatory statements, by email and posting on web sites, was
expressly aimed at the Plaintiff in Idaho, actions were felt by
Plaintiff in Idaho, as the Defendants intended.”).
In addition to the foregoing arguments, defendant contends
that personal jurisdiction over him is lacking because
defamation requires proof that the defamatory statements were
published to a third party. According to defendant, plaintiff
“fails to provide any evidence that the emails sent through
Inland’s interactive website were actually published to a thirdparty in Illinois.” Defs.’ Reply Br. at 5. Defendant further
points out that in one of the emails attached as an exhibit to
plaintiff’s complaint, plaintiff told him that Inland had
blocked his emails. If the messages were never actually received
or read by anyone else, he argues, plaintiff could not have been
This argument addresses the merits of the plaintiff’s
claim, not whether the court has personal jurisdiction over him.
At this stage, plaintiff is not required to offer proof or
evidence to support her claim on the merits. She need only make
out a prima facie case that the jurisdictional requirements are
met. The fact that the messages were sent directly to Inland and
Curtis is enough to support the inference that the messages were
indeed read and therefore published. I note, however, that
defendant’s own emails cast doubt on the notion that his
messages were in fact blocked by Inland. In an email to Curtis,
defendant himself indicated that he did not believe the messages
had been blocked. See Compl. Ex. C, Email from Kenneth Campbell
to Rod Curtis (Jan. 26, 2016) (“Dawn tells me that you have
blocked my e-mails. Of course. I know that Is [sic] not true.”).
Moreover, any blocking of defendant’s emails would have occurred
only after he had submitted the initial message or messages via
Inland’s website. Inland thus would have received at least one
defamatory communication regardless of whether defendant’s later
emails were blocked.
Defendant also separately contends that even if the court
has personal jurisdiction over him, it lacks personal
jurisdiction over his company. I disagree. A court may exercise
personal jurisdiction over a company based on the actions of its
agents. See, e.g., Daynard v. Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson
& Poole, P.A., 290 F.3d 42, 55 (1st Cir. 2002) (“For purposes of
personal jurisdiction, the actions of an agent may be attributed
to the principal.”); Myers v. Bennett Law Offices, 238 F.3d
1068, 1073 (9th Cir. 2001) (personal jurisdiction was proper
over law firm based on paralegal’s actions in requesting
plaintiff’s credit report). Plaintiff’s complaint specifically
alleges that defendant was acting as an agent of the company
when he sent the defamatory emails. To be sure, defendant’s
affidavit states that “[a]ny opinions about the Plaintiff’s
actions and activities ... contained in email communications to
Inland Real Estate Corporation are my personal opinions, and not
those of Campbell Professional,” Compl. ¶ 12, and that the
“emails and complaints in question were prepared and sent by me
personally and not in any way on behalf of or as part of the
business activities of Campbell Professional,” id. ¶ 13. As
plaintiff points out, however, the company’s name is included in
the signature line of each of the emails defendant sent to
Inland. This is sufficient to make out a prima facie case that
defendant was acting as the company’s agent in sending the
communications and hence that personal jurisdiction is proper
over both him and his company.
For these reasons, I conclude that the court has specific
personal jurisdiction over defendant. Accordingly, his motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is denied.5
Defendant also briefly argues that, because personal
jurisdiction is lacking, the complaint must be dismissed for
Motion to Transfer
In the alternative, defendant requests that plaintiff’s
suit be transferred to the District of Minnesota. The federal
change-of-venue statute provides: “[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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
Thus, transfer is appropriate where: “(1) venue is proper in
both the transferor and transferee court; (2) transfer is for
the convenience of parties and witnesses; and (3) transfer is in
the interests of justice.” Methode Elecs., Inc. v. Delphi Auto.
Sys. LLC, 639 F. Supp. 2d 903, 907 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (quotation
marks omitted). “It is the movant’s burden to show that transfer
is appropriate.” Id.
Since venue is proper in both Illinois and Minnesota, I
need consider only whether transferring the suit to Minnesota
would be more convenient and would promote the interests of
justice. As discussed below, I conclude that transfer would not
serve either of these ends.
Convenience of the Parties and Witnesses
“The following factors determine the convenience to the
parties and witnesses: (1) the plaintiff’s choice of forum; (2)
lack of venue. Having concluded that personal jurisdiction is
not lacking, this argument requires no further discussion.
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.” Hyatt Franchising, L.L.C. v. Shen
Zhen New World I, LLC, No. 16 C 8306, 2017 WL 372313, at *5
(N.D. Ill. Jan. 26, 2017) (citing Research Automation, Inc. v.
Schrader-Bridgeport Int’l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 979 (7th Cir.
2010)). On balance, these factors weigh against transfer.
Plaintiff’s Choice of Forum
“There is a strong presumption in favor of the plaintiff’s
choice of forum if it is where the plaintiff resides.” Basile v.
Prometheus Glob. Media, LLC, No. 15-CV-10138, 2016 WL 2987004,
at *5 (N.D. Ill. May 24, 2016) (citing Piper Aircraft Co. v.
Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255–56 (1981)); see also In re Nat’l Presto
Indus., Inc., 347 F.3d 662, 664 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[U]nless the
balance is strongly in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff’s
choice of forum should rarely be disturbed.”) (quotation marks
omitted). Since the plaintiff resides in this district, this
factor weighs heavily against transfer.
Situs of Material Events
Defendant maintains that Minnesota is the location of
material events because he composed and sent the emails from
Minnesota. However, the tort of defamation occurs where the
plaintiff’s injury was suffered. See, e.g., Rice v. Nova
Biomedical Corp., 38 F.3d 909, 916 (7th Cir. 1994) (“The tort of
defamation would therefore occur in the state or states in which
the victim loses personal or as here professional transactions
or transactional opportunities because of the impairment of his
reputation brought about by the defamatory statement.”).
Plaintiff lives and works in Illinois. Thus, any personal or
professional harm she has suffered would have occurred
primarily, if not exclusively, in Illinois. Hence, this factor,
too, weighs against transfer.
Relative Ease and Access to Sources of Proof
The only sources of proof identified by defendant are
documentary in nature. He claims that all or most of the
documents necessary to prove the truth of his statements about
plaintiff are located with plaintiff’s former colleagues and
business associates in Minnesota. The truth vel non of
defendant’s statements, however, is only one issue that will
require evidentiary support in the case. Evidence as to the
publication of the defendant’s statements and to plaintiff’s
resulting injuries will also be necessary.6 See, e.g., Floss v.
Since plaintiff asserts a claim for defamation per se, she
would not be required to prove actual damages. See, e.g.,
Berlant v. Goldstein, 2016 IL App (2d) 151176-U, ¶ 36 (“[A]
properly pleaded claim for defamation per se relieves the
plaintiff of proving actual damages.”). However, plaintiff would
still need to offer evidence as to the amount of her damages.
See, e.g., Macklem v. Pearl, No. 10 C 830, 2011 WL 2200037, at
*4 (N.D. Ill. May 31, 2011) (“[W]hile damages are presumed in an
action for defamation per se, the amount of damages is still an
Chicago Ass’n of Realtors, 2015 IL App (1st) 143218-U, ¶ 52 (“To
state an action for defamation per se, a plaintiff must allege:
facts showing the defendant made a false statement about the
plaintiff; the defendant made an unprivileged publication of
that statement to a third party; and that this publication
caused damages.”). Defendant has given no reason to think that
evidence relating to the latter issues would be found in
Minnesota as opposed to Illinois. And in any case, in “an era of
electronic documents, easy copying and overnight shipping, this
factor assumes much less importance than it did formerly.” Rhoda
v. Rhoda, No. 14-CV-6740 CM, 2014 WL 6991502, at *11 (S.D.N.Y.
Nov. 19, 2014) (quotation marks omitted). Hence, the location of
the sources of proof does not weigh in either party’s favor.
Convenience of the Parties
The defendant asserts that being forced to litigate in
Illinois would be very burdensome to him but he fails explain
why it would be any less burdensome for plaintiff to litigate in
Minnesota. Defendant claims that litigating in Illinois would
hinder his “ability to carry out his responsibilities with the
Company would be negatively affected and cause substantial
hardship to the Company.” Defs.’ Mot. to Dismis at 13-14.
However, he provides no reason for thinking that it would be any
easier for plaintiff to tend to her professional
responsibilities if the suit were transferred to Minnesota.
Overall, therefore, this factor is neutral.
Convenience of the Witnesses
Defendant has identified fifty-three potential witnesses
whom he might call to testify in his defense. The vast majority
of the witnesses live in Minnesota (although some are located in
other states, including a few in Illinois). Defendant therefore
maintains that transferring the suit to Minnesota would be far
more convenient for the witnesses.
This argument is problematic for several reasons. First,
the notion that fifty-three witnesses would actually be needed
to testify on defendant’s behalf cannot be taken seriously.
According to the list provided by defendant, all of the
witnesses would offer testimony as to the truth of his
statements. Inevitably, therefore, a great deal of the
witnesses’ testimony would be cumulative. Second, as previously
noted, the truth of defendant’s statements is only one issue
arising in this dispute. Plaintiff will need to present evidence
concerning the elements of publication and harm, which may
require testimony from witnesses in Illinois. And finally, while
defendant has identified a large number of potential witnesses,
“the convenience of the witnesses ... is not decided by
comparing the length of the parties witness lists, but quality
of their testimony on the pertinent issues.” Hearthside Baking
Co. v. Bader’s Dutch Biscuit Co., No. 95 C 834, 1995 WL 431259,
at *4 (N.D. Ill. July 19, 1995). Transferring the suit to
Minnesota might well be more convenient for the witnesses. But
this factor does not weigh as strongly in defendant’s favor as a
numerical count of witnesses would suggest.
Based on the foregoing, I conclude that the convenience
factors weigh decisively against transfer. The only factor
potentially supporting transfer is the convenience of the
witnesses. This is not sufficient to overcome the strong weight
accorded to the plaintiff’s choice of forum, particularly when
coupled with the fact that Illinois is the locus of material
Interests of Justice
In determining whether transfer would serve the interests
of justice, “courts look to factors including (1) docket
congestion and likely speed to trial, (2) each court’s relative
familiarity with the relevant law, and (3) the respective
desirability of resolving controversies in each locale.” Nagle
v. The Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., No. 15-CV-6073, 2015
WL 9268420, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 21, 2015). On the whole, these
factors militate against transfer, or at the very least, do not
Familiarity with Applicable Law
The districts’ familiarity with the relevant law does not
factor significantly in the analysis. Given the relative
similarity of defamation law across jurisdiction, the parties
have offered no reason to think that one forum might be more
familiar with the applicable law than the other.
Docket Congestion & Speed to Trial
“To evaluate the speed at which a case will proceed, courts
look to two statistics: (1) the median number of months from
filing to disposition for civil cases and (2) the median number
of months from filing to trial for civil cases.” AL & PO Corp.
v. Am. Healthcare Capital, Inc., No. 14 C 1905, 2015 WL 738694,
at *5 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 19, 2015) (quotation marks omitted). The
defendant notes that the time to disposition in shorter in this
district than in Minnesota, while the time to trial is quicker
in Minnesota than in Illinois.7 Where the two statistical
Defendant’s brief relies on the Federal Court Management
Statistics reported as of June 2016, according to which the
median time to disposition was 7.3 months in Illinois and 14.8
months in Minnesota (a difference of 7.5 months); and the median
time to trial was 38.4 months in Illinois and 27.7 months in
Minnesota (a difference of 10.7 months). See United States
Courts, U.S. District Courts–Combined Civil and Criminal Federal
Court Management Statistics (June 30, 2016)) at http://www.
son0630.2016.pdf. More recent statistics were reported in
September 2016. According to these, the median time to
disposition is 7.3 months in Illinois and 8.8 months in
Minnesota (a difference of 1.5 months); and the median time to
trial was 39.4 months in Illinois and 30.1 months in Minnesota
(a difference of 9.3 months). See United States Courts, U.S.
District Courts–Combined Civil and Criminal Federal Court
measures point in different directions, some courts have held
that they cancel one another out. See, e.g., Sec. & Exch. Comm’n
v. RPM Int’l, Inc., No. CV 16-1803 (ABJ), 2016 WL 7388284, at *5
(D.D.C. Dec. 20, 2016) (“Because these statistics essentially
cancel one another out, this factor is neutral.”). Other courts,
however, have held that the time to disposition is the more
important metric. See, e.g., AL & PO Corp., 2015 WL 738694, at
*5 (holding that the time to disposition is more important than
time to trial); Fernandes v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 157
F. Supp. 3d 383, 391 (D.N.J. 2015) (“[B]ecause both Districts
resolve relatively few cases by trial, the median time to
disposition for all cases, not just trials, provides the more
relevant measure of court congestion and speed to resolution of
the average case.”). In either case, considerations of docket
congestion and speed to trial do not counsel in favor of
Districts’ Interest in Resolving the Dispute
Illinois has a particular interest in the resolution of
this dispute. As a general matter, Illinois “has a strong
Management Statistics (September 30, 2016) at http://www.
son0930.2016.pdf. Thus, the more recent data indicate that the
difference in time to disposition has narrowed while the
difference in time to trial is roughly the same. Nevertheless,
as explained above, time to disposition is the more significant
factor. Thus, the fact that the time to trial is longer Illinois
than in Minnesota does not weigh heavily in favor of transfer.
interest in providing a forum for its residents to seek redress
for torts inflicted by out-of-state actors and injuries suffered
within the state.” Felland, 682 F.3d at 677. Here, however,
Illinois also has a more particular interest in providing the
plaintiff with the opportunity to vindicate her reputation in
the location in which it was damaged.
In sum, the interests of justice weigh against transfer of
this action, or at least do not weigh in favor of transfer.
Thus, when all of the relevant factors are taken into
consideration, it is clear that defendant has failed to show
that transferring this suit would be more convenient or would
promote the interests of justice. Accordingly, defendant’s
motion to transfer is denied.
For the reasons above, the defendants’ motion to dismiss or
transfer is denied.
Elaine E. Bucklo
United States District Judge
Dated: February 3, 2017
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