Motiv Power Systems, Inc. v. Livernois Vehicle Development, LLC, et al.

Filing 2

ORDER by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granting 12 Motion to Transfer Case to U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan. The January 14, 2014 hearing date is VACATED. (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/9/2014)[Transferred from cand on 1/29/2014.] Modified on 1/29/2014 (VLun).

Download PDF
1 2 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNI 5 6 MOTIV POWER SYSTEMS, INC., Plaintiff, 7 v. 8 9 Case No.: 13-CV-4811 YGR ORDER GRANTING MOTION OF DEFENDANT COMERICA BANK TO TRANSFER CASE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1404(A) LIVERNOIS VEHICLE DEVELOPMENT, LLC, COMERICA BANK, 10 Defendants. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Defendant Comerica Bank (“Comerica”) has filed its Motion to Transfer Case to the United 12 States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Dkt. 13 No. 12.) Comerica seeks a transfer pursuant to the first-to-file rule or, in the alternative, on 14 convenience grounds under section 1404(a). 15 Plaintiff Motiv Power Systems, Inc. (“Motiv”) filed no response to the motion and 16 Comerica filed its Notice of Non-Opposition on December 27, 2013. (Dkt. No. 16.) 17 Having carefully considered the papers submitted and the pleadings in this action, and the 18 lack of opposition to the motion by Plaintiff, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby 19 GRANTS the Motion to Transfer based on the first-to-file rule.1 20 I. BACKGROUND 21 A. The Parties and Dispute 22 Comerica is a lender to defendant Livernois and its affiliates (“Borrowers”).2 Livernois is 23 an automotive engineering services provider and manufacturer with its principal place of business 24 25 1 26 27 28 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b) and Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Accordingly, the Court VACATES the hearing set for January 14, 2014. 2 Livernois affiliates include Notada, LLC, and NTD Investments, LLC, neither of which is a party to this or the other pending litigation. 1 in Michigan. The Borrowers are in default of their obligations to Comerica under the Notes and the 2 total unpaid principal and interest due to Comerica currently exceeds $4.1 million. 3 Motiv, a California corporation, and Livernois are parties to a November 30, 2012, 4 Consulting Services Agreement (the “CSA”) pursuant to which Livernois agreed to “provide 5 [Motiv] with professional, technical engineering, design, fabrication and assembly services” in 6 connection with certain electric vehicle components. Pursuant to that CSA, Motiv delivered to 7 Livernois, in Michigan, certain automotive parts and equipment (“the Goods”). Comerica is not a 8 party to the CSA. 9 The heart of the dispute between Motiv and Comerica is whether Comerica’s asserted lien on the Goods is senior to the Motiv’s lien and interests in that same property. Comerica asserts that 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 it is entitled to possess and liquidate any assets of Livernois in order to satisfy Livernois’ 12 outstanding debt to Comerica. Comerica further contends that the Goods are the inventory of 13 Livernois and part of its assets. 14 15 Comerica alleges that, on September 23, 2013, Motiv forcibly took a portion of the Goods into its possession. The remaining Goods are still in the possession of Livernois in Michigan. 16 B. Chronology of the Litigation 17 On October 3, 2013, Comerica filed a Michigan state court action against Motiv in the 18 Wayne County Circuit Court entitled Comerica Bank v. Motiv Power Systems, Inc. (Case No. 13- 19 012930- PD) (“the Michigan Complaint”). In its complaint, Comerica contends that it has a prior 20 perfected lien on the Goods, which lien is senior to any interest Motiv claims to have therein. 21 Comerica’s complaint states claims for declaratory relief, conversion, and claim and delivery. 22 On October 4, 2013, Motiv filed the instant action against Livernois in the Superior Court 23 of California, County of San Francisco (“the California Complaint”) captioned as Motiv Power 24 Systems, Inc. v. Livernois Vehicle Development, LLC, et al. (Case No. CGC-13-534698). On October 25 15, 2013, Motiv filed an amended complaint in the Motiv State Action for the purpose of adding 26 Comerica as a defendant. 27 28 2 On October 17, 2013, Comerica removed the California Complaint to this Court. On 1 2 November 4, 2013, Motiv removed the Michigan Complaint to the U.S. District Court for the 3 Eastern District of Michigan. 4 II. DISCUSSION 5 A federal district court has discretion to dismiss, stay, or transfer a case to another district 6 court under the first-to-file rule. Pacesetter Sys., Inc. v. Medtronic, Inc., 678 F.2d 93, 94–95 (9th 7 Cir. 1982); Alltrade, Inc. v. Uniweld Prods. Inc., 946 F.2d 622, 628 (9th Cir. 1991) (“The most 8 basic aspect of the first-to-file rule is that it is discretionary.”). The first-to-file rule is “a generally 9 recognized doctrine of federal comity” permitting a district court to decline jurisdiction over an action. v. Martindale–Hubbell, 420 F. Supp. 2d 1093, 1097 (N.D. Cal. 2006) (citing 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Pacesetter, 678 F.2d at 94–95). The rule is primarily meant to alleviate the burden placed on the 12 federal judiciary by duplicative litigation and to prevent the possibility of conflicting judgments. 13 Church of Scientology of Cal. v. U.S. Dep’t of Army, 611 F.2d 738, 750 (9th Cir. 1979) (citations 14 omitted). As such, the rule should not be disregarded lightly. See Microchip Tech., Inc. v. United 15 Module Corp., No. CV-10-04241-LHK, 2011 WL 2669627, at *3 (N.D. Cal. July 7, 2011). Courts 16 analyze three factors in determining whether to apply the first-to-file rule: (1) chronology of the 17 actions; (2) similarity of the parties; and (3) similarity of the issues. Schwartz v. Frito-Lay N. Am., 18 No. C-12-02740 EDL, 2012 WL 8147135, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 12, 2012) (citing Alltrade, 946 19 F.2d at 625). 20 A court may, in its discretion, decline to apply the first-to-file rule in the interests of equity 21 or where the Section 1404(a) balance of convenience weighs in favor of the later-filed action. 22 Adoma v. Univ. of Phoenix, Inc., 711 F. Supp. 2d 1142, 1149 (E.D. Cal. 2010); Ward v. Follett 23 Corp., 158 F.R.D. 645, 648 (N.D. Cal. 1994). Exceptions to the first-to-file rule include where the 24 filing of the first suit evidences bad faith, anticipatory suits, and forum shopping. Alltrade, 946 25 F.2d at 628. The Ninth Circuit has cautioned that relaxing the first-to-file rule on the basis of 26 convenience is a determination best left to the court in the first-filed action. Ward, 158 F.R.D. at 27 648 (citing Alltrade, 946 F.2d at 628). 28 3 1 Here, the Michigan Complaint was filed prior to the California Complaint. While the 2 California Complaint was removed to federal court before the Michigan Complaint was removed, 3 the date of removal is immaterial to the first-to-file analysis. See Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. v. 4 Margolis, 956 F.2d 1166 (9th Cir. 1992); Innovation Ventures, L.L.C. v. Custom Nutrition 5 Laboratories, L.L.C., 534 F.Supp.2d 754, 756 (E.D.Mich. 2008). 6 The issues to be litigated in the two cases are identical. Likewise, the parties are nearly 7 identical, with the only difference being that Livernois is not a party to the Michigan Complaint. 8 However, Livernois’ principal place of business was Michigan, making transfer to Michigan a 9 benefit to Livernois, should it ever appear in this litigation. Moreover, any dispute between Livernois and Motiv is subject to an arbitration provision, and Motiv has apparently already filed a 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 demand for arbitration, making the choice of venue essentially irrelevant to Livernois. The dispute 12 between Comerica and Motiv is not subject to that arbitration provision. 13 14 15 Comerica filed its action first, in Michigan. Motiv has offered no reasons in equity why this matter should not be transferred, nor does the Court find any. Accordingly, the Motion to Transfer based upon first filing is GRANTED. This action is 16 transferred to the Eastern District of Michigan. Consequently, the Court does not reach the merits 17 of the motion, in the alternative, for a transfer on convenience grounds. 18 This Order terminates Docket No. 12. 19 IT IS SO ORDERED. 20 21 Date: January 9, 2014 _______________________________________ YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?