United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue (Doc.
7). For the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED.
ORDER AND REASONS
TRICHE MILAZZO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case arises out of a dispute between a former employer, The
Kalencom Corporation (“Plaintiff”), and a former
employee and independent contractor, Anne Marie Montagne
Shulman (“Defendant”). Plaintiff worked for
Defendant, a manufacturer of handbags, diaper bags, jewelry
boxes, and packaging, for twenty-one years until February
2016. During the first two years of their business
relationship, Defendant worked as an employee of Plaintiff at
its offices in New Orleans. Thereafter, Defendant worked as
an independent contractor for Plaintiff from her home in
Atlanta, Georgia. Defendant provided Plaintiff with
consulting services through various corporate entities that
she owned or operated.
alleges that after their business relationship ended,
Defendant misappropriated its proprietary information and
used that information to take business away from Plaintiff.
Specifically, Plaintiff accuses Defendant of taking its
former client, Neiman Marcus. Plaintiff brings suit against
Defendant for violation of trade secrets law, trade practice
law, tortious interference with a business relationship, and
breach of fiduciary duty.
filed the instant motion requesting that the case be
transferred to the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta
Division, where she resides and works. Plaintiff, a New
Orleans-based manufacturer, opposes this Motion.
argues that this Court should transfer this action pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1404, which 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
brought or to any district or division to which all parties
have consented.” As a threshold matter, it must be
established that the transferee venue is one where the suit
could have been brought. Once that is established, the Fifth
Circuit has held that courts should apply the public and
private interest forum non conveniens factors
enunciated by the Supreme Court in Gulf Oil Corp. v.
Gilbert in determining whether good cause for venue
transfer exists pursuant to § 1404(a).
private interest factors include: “(1) the relative
ease of access to sources of proof; (2) the availability of
compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses; (3)
the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and (4) all
other practical problems that make trial of a case easy,
expeditious and inexpensive.” The public interest factors
include: “(1) the administrative difficulties flowing
from court congestion; (2) the local interest in having
localized interests decided at home; (3) the familiarity of
the forum with the law that will govern the case; and (4) the
avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws [or in]
the application of foreign law.” To overcome the
plaintiff's choice of venue, the movant must show
“good cause” or that the “transferee venue
is clearly more convenient than the plaintiff's chosen
parties do not dispute that the case could have been brought
in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.
Accordingly, the Court may proceed directly to an analysis of
the relevant factors. As outlined below, the factors indicate
that transfer is not appropriate.
Relative ease of access to sources of proof
asserts that access to sources of proof is easier in the
Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division because it is
where the purported misappropriation of Plaintiff's
information took place and where all of Defendant's
documents pertaining to her past and present business
activities are located. Defendant argues that any potential
evidence that Plaintiff would need to prove its case would
have to be located in Atlanta.
disagrees, claiming that it has the greater volume of
documents relevant to litigation and that all of the
confidential information at issue in this matter is located
in New Orleans. Plaintiff also points out that because the
Defendant states that she no longer has any of the
Plaintiff's proprietary information, the majority of
relevant litigation documents must be located in New Orleans.
In re Volkswagen, the Fifth Circuit found that this
factor weighed in favor of transfer because all of the
documents and physical evidence relating to the accident at
issue in that trial were in the proposed transferee
venue.“This analysis turns on which party
will most probably have the greater volume of documents
relevant to the litigation and their presumed location in
relation to the transferee and transferor
venues.” Here, it appears that relevant
documentation is located in both venues. Defendant has not
shown that a majority of the documents are located in Atlanta
or that the documents in Atlanta are of a greater
significance to the case. Accordingly, this factor is
Availability of compulsory process over
next factor considers the subpoena power of both venues.
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, courts have
subpoena power to command the appearance of non-party
witnesses for depositions or trial within “(A) 100
miles of where the person resides, is employed, or regularly
transacts business in person; or (B) the state where the
person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business
in person, if the person (i) is a party or a party's
officer; or (ii) is commanded to attend a trial and would not
incur substantial expense.”Accordingly, a trial subpoena
to travel more than 100 miles is subject to a motion to quash
that subpoena. The Eastern District of Louisiana
courthouse and the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta
Division courthouse are approximately 470 miles apart.
Accordingly, witnesses from one district are not subject to
compulsory service in the other.
Plaintiff states that it will rely on the testimony of its
current and former employees in New Orleans, as well as
Neiman Marcus employees located in Dallas. Defendant states
that she will rely on the testimony of her current customers
and co-workers located in the Atlanta area, in addition to
Neiman Marcus employees in Dallas. As a result, neither venue
will have ...