VAN DYKE v. SCHULTZ et al
OPINION/ORDER denying 4 Motion to Change Venue. Signed by Judge Claire C. Cecchi on 1/15/15. (DD, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No.: 14-cv-3296
JASON VAN DYKE.
OPINION & ORDER
WESLEY SCHULTZ. JEREMY FRAITES,
THE LUMINEERS, LLC, et at,
CECCHI, District Judge.
Before the Court is Defendants’ motion to transfer venue to the District of Colorado
pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3). (ECF No. 4). The Court decides this matter without oral
argument pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.’ For the reasons set forth
below, the Court denies Defendants’ motion.
This case arises out of allegations that Defendants violated Plaintiff’s co-ownership rights
in various musical compositions and recordings, and Plaintiffs partnership rights under New
Jersey law. (CompL ¶ 1). Generally, the defendant bears the burden of showing improper venue.
Myers v, Am. Dental Assn. 695 F.2d 716, 724725 (3d Cir. 1982). When deciding a Rule 12(b)(3)
The Court considers any new arguments not presented by the parties to be waived, Sce
Brenner v. Local 514. United Bhd. of Caenters & Joiners of Am.. 927 F.2d 1283. 1298 (3d Cir.
1991) (Jt is well established that failure to raise an issue in the district court constitutes a waiver
of the argument.”L
motion. a Court must accept as true the allegations in the complaint, though the parties may submit
affidavits to support their positions. Leone v. Cataldo. 574 F. Supp. 2d 471. 483 (E.D. Pa. 2008).
Accordingly, the Court considers the facts as stated in the Complaint and the parties briefings.
Plaintiff was a resident of California at the time this suit was filed in May 2014. (Compi.
4). Plaintiff avers he lived in California from 2012 to 2014 to complete graduate studies at
California State University. (Van Dyke Dec!. ¶ 2). Prior to living in California, Plaintiff alleges
he resided in ew Jersey for thirty years. (Van Dyke Dccl. ¶ 1). Plaintiff contends that he left
California in June 2014, intending to permanently return to New Jersey where he currently resides.
(Van Dyke Dccl. ¶ 3-4). Defendants Schultz, Fraites, and The Lumineers LLC, Inc. are residents
of Colorado. (Cornpl. ¶J 5-7).
Plaintiff alleges that he joined Defendants Schultz and Fraites in a musical group in 2008.
¶ 9). Plaintiff alleges he formed a partnership with Defendants under New Jersey law, and
has a property interest in the songs they created together under the United States Copyright Act.
1; 11-13). Plaintiff alleges that “virtually all” of the songwriting, rehearsing, and
recording occurred in New Jersey, at Defendants’ parents’ homes. (Van Dyke Dccl. ¶ 7). In
October 2009. Defendants Schultz and Fraites moved to Colorado. but Plaintiff remained in New
¶ 31). Defendants allege all the relevant evidence is located in Colorado, (Fraites
Aff. ¶4: Schultz Aff.
ECF No. 7-1.
Defendant ‘The Lumineers LLC, Inc.,” incorrectly sued herein as “The Lurnineers
LLC.” is a Delaware S-Corporation with its principal place of business in Colorado.
(Defs.’ Br. Supp. at 4; ECF 4-6).
ECF No. 4-2.
Defendants concede that New Jersey is a proper forum for this suit under 28 U.S.C.
1391(b)(2). because “a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to Plaintiffs claims
may have occurred in New Jersey.” (Defs.’ Reply Br. at 6). However, Defendants move to transfer
to the District of Colorado pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
1404(a), arguing that (i) this suit could have
been brought in Colorado, and (ii) the convenience of parties and witnesses and the interest of
justice favor transfer. (Defs. Br. Supp. at 5).
Section 1404(a) allows transfer “where both the original and the requested venue are
proper.” Jumarav. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 878 (3d Cir. 1995). Here, Defendants concede
that venue could be proper in New Jersey under 28 U.S.C.
¶ 3). Accordingly, 28 U.S.C.
1391(b)(2). (Defs.’ Br. Supp. at 5;
§1404(a) applies. Section 1404(a) permits transfer to a more
convenient forum “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.” The
moving party bears the burden of establishing that the transfer is appropriate and must demonstrate
that the proposed forum is more convenient than the present forum. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. “The
Court has broad discretion in making determinations under Section 1404(a), and convenience and
fairness are considered on a case-by-case basis.” Santi v. Nat’l Bus. Records Mgmt., LLC, 722
RSupp.2d 602, 606 (D.NJ. 2010),
When deciding 1404(a) motions, courts consider a balancing of private and public factors.
529 F.3d 183, 189 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing QilCo.v.
Gilbert. 330 U.S. 501, 508509 (1947)). Private i.nterests include: the Plaintiffs choice of forum;
the ease of access to sources of proof the availability and convenience to the witnesses —“but only
to the extent that the witnesses may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora: and the
location of books and records (similarly limited to the extent that the files could not be produced
in the alternative forum).” Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879 (citations omitted). Public factors considered by
the Third Circuit include: enforceability of the Court’s judgment: practical considerations that
could make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive; court congestion in the respective fora; the
local interest in deciding local controversies at home; the public policies of the fora; and the
familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state law. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879 (citations
Defendants argue that this action could have been brought in Colorado. (Defs.’ Br. Supp.
at 4). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 139l(b)(l), venue is appropriate in any district “in which any
defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located.” Here,
all Defendants are residents of Colorado. (Compl.
5-7). Accordingly, the Court finds Colorado
could be an appropriate alternate forum.
Defendants also argue that private and public interests support that Colorado is the more
appropriate venue. (Defs.’ Br. Supp. at 5-8). Plaintiff argues that New Jersey is the appropriate
forum, and that all the private and public factors support keeping the case here. (P1. Br, Opp’n at
4-8). For the following reasons, the Court finds that neither private nor public factors favor
transferring this action to Colorado.
The Private Factors
The private interests of the parties do not favor transfer. Plaintiffs chosen forum, New
Jersey. is a paramount consideration in any determination of a transfer request. which should not
be lightly disturbed. Shutte v. Arrnco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22. 25 (3d Cir. 1970). Defendants
argue that Plaintiffs choice is not entitled to significant weight because Plaintiff was a resident of
California, not New Jersey, at the time of filing. (Defs.’ Reply Br. At 5). Indeed, a foreign
plaintiffs chosen forum is
entitled to significant deference. $ç Windt. 529 F.3d at 190 (“[A]
foreign plaintiffs choice deserves less deference.”)(citing Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S.
235, 256 (1981)). However, a foreign plaintiff may bolster the amount of deference given to their
chosen forum by making a strong showing of convenience. Windt, 529 F.3d at 190 (citing Lony
v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., 886 F.2d 628, 634 (3d Cir. 1989)). Here, even if deference to
Plaintiffs choice is limited, the other factors do not shift the balance toward transfer to Colorado.
Defendants’ allegation that Colorado is more convenient for all the parties, (Defs.’ Br. Supp. at 7),
is belied by Plaintiffs evidence that he currently resides in New Jersey. (Van Dyke Dccl.
¶ 4; Ex.
A). Additionally, the claims arose from the parties’ relationship in New Jersey throughout 2008
and 2009. (Defs.’ Reply Br. At 6). Defendants have not demonstrated, beyond conclusory
statements, that witnesses or evidence would be unavailable to this Court. See Jumara, 55 F.3d at
879. Accordingly, Defendants’ argument that they will be inconvenienced by litigating in this
Court is not sufficient.
The Public Factors
The public factors also favor New Jersey. Plaintiff asserts a claim to partnership assets
under New Jersey law. (Compi. ¶ U, Accordingl, this Court is likely more familiar with the law
upon which Plaintiffs claim rests. Further, Defendants have provided insufficient support for
9 Stat. Ann.
their contention that the trial would be easier. more expeditious. or more inexpensive in Colorado.
There is similarly no argument that this Court’s judgment would be less enforceable than that of a
court sitting in Colorado. Accordingly, the public factors do not support transfer.
Because neither the private nor public factors weigh in favor of transfer, the Court declines
to transfer this action to Colorado pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
For the foregoing reasons it is hereby
ORDERED that Defendants’ motion to transfer venue is DENIED.
CLAIRE C. CECCHI, U.S.D.J.
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