CLIFFORD PAPER INC. v. COLONIAL PRESS INTERNATIONAL INC.
OPINION AND ORDER Granting in part and Denying in part #8 Motion to Dismiss. Granted to the extent that the motion concerns the transfer of this action to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and it is further Ordered, Denied without prejudice to the extent that the motion concerns other alternative relief; and it is further Ordered that the Clerk of the Court TRANSFER THIS ACTION to the United States District for the Southern District of Florida and closed this action. Signed by Chief Judge Jose L. Linares on 6/26/2017. (JB, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CLIFFORD PAPER INC.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 17-2439 (JLL)
OPINION & ORDER
COLONIAL PRESS INTERNATIONAL INC.,:
LINARES, Chief District Judge
IT APPEARING THAT:
Currently pending before the Court is a motion by the defendant, Colonial
Press International Inc. (hereinafter, “Colonial”), to transfer this federal action to a
federal district court in Florida, among other alternative relief
(concerning a change of venue for a federal action). (See ECF No. 8 through ECF No. 84; ECF No. 9; ECF No. 10 through ECF No. 10-2 1; ECF No. 11; ECF No. 14.)’ The
plaintiff, Clifford Paper Inc. (hereinafter, “Clifford”), opposes Colonial’s motion.
ECFNo. 12;ECFNo. l2-l;ECFNo. 13.)
(See ECF No. 9 at 20 (Colonial citing Jurnara v. State Farm Insurance Company,
55 F.3d 873 (3d Cii. 1995), Tischio v. Bontex. Inc., 16 F.Supp.2d 511 (D.N.J. 1998), and
other cases that either granted or addressed relief to the movants under Section 1404(a)).)
The Court resolves Colonial’s motion upon
a review of the
without oral argument. See L.Civ.R. 78.1(b). For the following reasons, the Court orders
this federal action to be transferred to United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida.
Clifford is deemed to be a New Jersey citizen. Colonial is deemed to be a
Florida citizen. Colonial has its principal place of business in Miami, Florida, which is
located in the area covered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Florida. (See ECF No. 1.) See http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov.
Clifford describes itself as being “a large paper company” with “annual
sales revenue [of] approximately $400 million.” (ECF No. 12 at 3; ECF No. 10-18 at
19.) Colonial is in the printing business. (See ECF No. 1.) Colonial has been purchasing
paper products from Clifford since 2009. (See ECF No. 12-1 at 1.)
In this federal action, Clifford alleges that Colonial has failed to make
certain payments on several invoices, and that Colonial’s total debt owed to Clifford
(hereinafter, “the Debt”) is now approximately $475,000. This federal action contains
claims for breach of contract against Colonial. (çç ECF No. 1.)
However, before Clifford brought this federal action, Colonial brought an
action against Clifford in Florida state court in Miami-Dade County for: (a) tortious
interference with business relationships based upon Clifford’s conduct in seeking to
collect the Debt; and (b) defamation by implication based on Clifford’s statements to
others in the paper industry concerning Colonial’s business affairs. See Fla. Civil Case
No. 17-7936-CA-Ui. (See ECF No. 10-13 at 2—10; ECF No. 12 at 5.) Clifford has
appeared in the Florida state action, wherein jurisdictional discovery is occurring and a
motion is pending. (See ECF No. 12 at 3—4.)
It is not necessary for the Court to restate the standard for resolving a
motion to transfer a federal action to a different venue pursuant to Section 1404(a),
because that standard has been already enunciated and is well-settled. See Jumara, 55
F.3d at 879—80 (setting forth the standard and the factors to be considered); see also In re
Amendt, 169 Fed.Appx. 93, 96 (3d Cir. 2006) (reiterating the holding in Jumara).
However, it should be noted that the Court possesses the broad discretion to transfer an
action to a federal district where the action might have been brought.
1404(a); see also Jumara, 55 F.3d at 875; id. at 877 n.3; id. at $83.
The Court concludes that it would have been more appropriate for this
federal action to have been brought in the Southern District of Florida, and therefore the
Court transfers the action there.
Admittedly, Colonial’s previous payments on its invoices were processed
by Clifford in New Jersey. (See ECF No. 12-1 at 2—3.)
Nevertheless, the following factors overwhelmingly weigh in favor of a
transfer of this action to the Southern District of Florida: (a) Colonial’s business
operations are only in Miami, Florida; (b) Colonial has no employees in New Jersey; (c)
until recently, Clifford set forth on its website that it had an office and a contact number
in Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida, which is located within the Southern
District of Florida; (d) Clifford’s employees personally met with Colonial’s employees in
Florida on several occasions during the course of their business relationship, but there is
no indication in the motion papers before the Court that Colonial’s employees ever met
with Clifford’s employees in New Jersey; (e) all of the paper products that were supplied
by Clifford, including the products underlying the Debt, were delivered to Colonial in
Florida; (1) the Florida state litigation is proceeding within the area that is covered by the
Southern District of Florida, and thus it would be preferable for the purposes of
coordination and administration for this federal action to proceed there; (g) Florida
citizens will have an interest in the outcome of this action, because the Debt arose there;
and (Ii) the majority of the witnesses in this action probably work or live near or within
the Southern District of Florida. See In re Christian, 403 Fed.Appx. 651, 652 (3d Cir.
2010) (denying a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel a Pennsylvania district court
to vacate an order that transferred a case to a Virginia district court, and reasoning that
not all of the defendants resided in Pennsylvania, and that the events at issue arose in
Virginia); DLB Assocs. Consulting Eng’rs, P.C. v. Reynolds, Inc., No. 12-7524, 2014
WL 2011236, at *1_2 (D.N.J. May 16, 2014) (transferring an indemnification action that
was brought by a New Jersey entity against a Georgia entity to the Northern District of
Georgia, because there was related litigation in the Georgia state courts); Ramada
Worldwide. Inc. v. Bellrnark Sarasota Airport, LLC, No. 05-2309, 2006 WL 1675067, at
*25 (D.N.J. June 15, 2006) (transfelTing a breach of contract action that was brought by
a New Jersey entity against a Florida entity to the Middle District of Florida); E.E. Crnz
& Co.. Inc. v. Alufab, Inc., No. 06-262, 2006 WL 1344095, at *6_7 (D.N.J. May 16,
2006) (transferring a breach of contract action that was brought by a New Jersey entity
against a Florida entity to the Southern District of Florida).
Furthermore, it is apparent that Clifford is a sophisticated party. Clifford
was capable of negotiating with a local printing company, i.e., Colonial, for a New Jersey
forum clause that would apply to any potential litigation between the parties, but Clifford
failed to do so. Thus, any argument that Colonial should have expected that a potential
dispute with Clifford could result in New Jersey litigation is of little merit. See Aylen v.
Volunteers of Am. Chesapeake, Inc., No. 15-2265, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83689, at ‘1
4 (D.N.J. June 29, 2015) (holding the same, where a district court transferred an action to
Maryland that had been brought by a New Jersey citizen against a Maryland entity
concerning the failure to pay for services that were rendered in Maryland).
The fact that Clifford is a New Jersey citizen does not outweigh the
aforementioned factors that make Florida the more-appropriate venue for this federal
action, because New Jersey has little connection with the operative facts at issue here.
See Shubert v. Marriott Int’l, Inc., No. 15-5111, 2016 WL 245252, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 21,
2016) (holding in a civil action that “when the dispute central to a lawsuit arose from
events that occulTed almost exclusively in another state, as is the case here, courts give
substantially less weight to the plaintiffs forum choice”); Hoffer v. InfoSpace.corn. Inc.,
102 F.Supp.2d 556, 573 (D.N.J. 2000) (holding that “[t]he choice of forum by a plaintiff
is simply a preference; it is not a right”); Nat’l Prop. Investors VIII v. Shell Oil Co., 917
F.Supp. 324, 327 (D.N.J. 1995) (holding that a plaintiffs choice of venue is not
“decisive,” and that the choice is accorded less deference “when the central facts of a
lawsuit occur outside of the chosen forum”). Furthermore, Clifford cannot reasonably
argue that Florida is an inconvenient forum, because (a) it put itself out as having an
office there until recently, and (b) its employees dealt with Colonial on a regular basis in
Furthermore, the Court notes that the convenience of counsel is not a
consideration as to the issue of the proper venue for an action. See Solomon v. Cont’l
Am. Life Ins. Co., 472 F.2d 1043, 1047 (3d Cir. 1973).
The Court is authorized to address the propriety of transferring this federal
action to another venue, regardless of whether or not the Court possesses personal
jurisdiction over Colonial. See Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heirnan, 369 U.S. 463, 466—67 (1962).
While “[t]he question of personal jurisdiction, which goes to the court’s power to
exercise control over the parties, is typically decided in advance of venue,
may reverse the normal order of considering personal jurisdiction and venue,” and thus
the Court is empowered to transfer this action to the Southern District of Florida now.
Leroy v. Great W. United Corp., 443 U.S. 173, 180 (1979).
FOR GOOD CAUSE APPEARING:
day of June, 2017, ORDERED that
IT IS THEREFORE on this
the defendant’s motion to transfer this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
1404(a) to the
United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, among other alternative
relief (ECF No. 8), is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART as follows:
GRANTED TO THE EXTENT that the motion concerns the transfer of
this action to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and it is
DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO THE EXTENT that the motion
concerns other alternative relief and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court TRANSFER THIS ACTION to the
United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida; and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court designate this action, insofar as it exists in
the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, as CLOSED.
MSE L. LINARES
(%ihief Judge, United States District Court
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?