First Source v. RJW Transport, Inc.
DECISION AND ORDER DENYING Defendant's 4 Motion to Change Venue. Signed by William M. Skretny, United States District Judge on 5/15/2017. (MEAL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
FIRST SOURCE, LLC,
DECISION AND ORDER
RJW TRANSPORT, INC.,
Presently before this Court is Defendant RJW Transport, Inc.’s (“RJW”)
Motion to Change Venue. (Docket No. 4.) RJW seeks to transfer this case to the
Northern District of Illinois, the judicial district in which its warehouse facility is located.
For the following reasons, the motion is denied.
Plaintiff First Source, LLC (“First Source”), a candy wholesaler
headquartered in Tonawanda, New York, brings this suit in diversity against RJW, a
transportation service provider headquartered in Illinois. First Source alleges that RJW
failed to honor its contractual obligations to distribute First Source’s seasonal candy
products to Walmart distribution centers. As relevant here, the parties contracted for
RJW to take the product from First Source in Tonawanda, New York to RJW’s
warehouse in Bolingbrook, Illinois for re-packaging and transport to Walmart distribution
centers located in 28 different states, including New York. First Source alleges that
RJW’s deliveries to the distribution centers were untimely and failed to conform to the
amounts ordered by Walmart, resulting in overages for some deliveries and shortages
The complaint has two causes of action, the first based on 49 U.S.C.
§14706, Liability of Carriers Under Receipts and Bills of Lading, and the second on
breach of contract.
RJW’s motion for change of venue is brought under the doctrine of forum
non conveniens, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1404. Section 1404(a) provides that, “[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
“Section 1404(a) is intended to place discretion in the district court to
adjudicate motions for transfer according to an ‘individualized, case-by-case
consideration of convenience and fairness.’” Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S.
22, 29, 108 S. Ct. 2239, 101 L. Ed. 2d 22 (1988) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376
U.S. 612, 622, 84 S. Ct. 805, 11 L. Ed. 2d 945 (1964); In re Cuyahoga Equip. Corp.,
980 F.2d 110, 117 (2d Cir. 1992) (“[M]otions for transfer lie within the broad discretion of
the district court and are determined upon notions of convenience and fairness . . .”).
“The burden of demonstrating the desirability of transfer lies with the moving party, and
in considering the motion for transfer, a court should not disturb a plaintiff’s choice of
forum ‘unless the defendants make a clear and convincing showing that the balance of
convenience favors defendants’ choice.’” Linzer v. EMI Blackwood Music, Inc., 904 F.
Supp. 207, 216 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (quoting Hubbell Inc. v. Pass & Seymour, Inc., 883
F.Supp. 955, 962 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).
In evaluating whether transfer is appropriate, this Court must first
determine whether the action could have been brought in the district to which the
defendants seek to transfer the case. Herbert Ltd. P'ship v. Electronic Arts Inc., 325
F.Supp.2d 282, 285 (S.D.N.Y.2004). Next, it must weigh the following factors:
(1) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (2) the convenience of witnesses, (3) the
location of relevant documents and relative ease of access to sources of
proof, (4) the convenience of the parties, (5) the locus of operative facts,
(6) the availability of process to compel the attendance of unwilling
witnesses, [and] (7) the relative means of the parties.
D.H. Blair & Co. v. Gottdiener, 462 F.3d 95, 106-07 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting Albert
Fadem Trust v. Duke Energy Corp., 214 F. Supp. 2d 341, 343 (S.D.N.Y. 2002))
(alteration in original). No one factor is controlling or determinative, rather the Court
must, in its discretion, balance all of the factors in making its decision. Praxair, Inc. v.
Morrison Knudsen Corp., No. 00-CV-0892E(SC), 2001 WL 118585, at *2 (W.D.N.Y.
Feb. 6, 2001).
It is undisputed that this action could have been brought in the Northern
District of Illinois. Thus, the Court must determine, upon balancing the factors listed
above, whether the interests of justice favor the transfer of this action. RJW argues
that, aside from the weight to be given to First Source’s choice of this judicial district, all
other factors are either neutral or weigh in its favor. Specifically, RJW contends that the
convenience of witnesses and locus of operative facts both support moving venue,
because the alleged breaches of contract took place at its warehouse facility in
Bolingbrook, Illinois, and because its employees (also located in Illinois) will be material
witnesses. RJW also suggests that there may be some non-party witnesses located in
the Northern District of Illinois, and that First Source may have greater means that
would allow it to litigate outside its home forum. First Source disagrees on these points,
and argues that greater weight should be given to the convenience of the employee
witnesses from its headquarters in Tonawanda, New York, as well as to the non-party
employees of the Walmart distribution centers located in 28 different states, including
New York, because these locations were the true locus of operative facts.
This Court is persuaded that RJW’s warehouse facility in Illinois is a locus
of operative facts, though not the only relevant locus in this case. This finding alone is
not sufficient to support transfer, particularly in light of the further finding that the
remainder of the disputed factors weigh equally for both fora. Witnesses and parties
are located in both districts, as well as outside of them, and neither side has presented
a persuasive argument that any other factor might tilt in its favor. There are relevant
documents located in each district, as well as some sources of evidence that are
outside, and RJW concedes that each district is equally familiar with the applicable law.
Moreover, RJW’s speculation as to the possibility of non-party witnesses in Illinois, and
its statement that First Source “appears” to be the larger corporation, are not sufficient
to meet the burden of a “clear and convincing showing that the balance of convenience
favors” a transfer to Illinois. Linzer, 904 F. Supp. at 216.
Therefore, this Court must honor First Source’s choice. “[First Source]
chose New York as its forum, a decision that is given great weight.” D.H. Blair & Co.,
462 F.3d at 107 (citing Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255, 102 S. Ct. 252,
70 L. Ed. 2d 419 (1981)). As here, where the factors seem almost equally balanced in
favor of either forum, a transfer would merely shift the burden of inconvenience from
one party to the other.
See Dwyer v. Gen. Motors Corp., 853 F. Supp. 690, 693
(S.D.N.Y. 1994). Accordingly, the motion to change venue is denied. See Dwyer, 853
F. Supp. at 694 (“Plaintiffs’ choice of forum is significant and will not be disturbed,
unless the balance of factors weighs heavily in favor of a transfer.”).
IT HEREBY IS ORDERED, that Defendant’s  Motion to Change Venue is
Dated: May 15, 2017
Buffalo, New York
/s/William M. Skretny
WILLIAM M. SKRETNY
United States District Judge
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?