Chief Judge Sleet grants motion to transfer to Southern District of Ohio

Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet recently granted a Delaware corporation’s motion to transfer to the Southern District of Ohio. Verint Systems Inc., et al. v. CallCopy, Inc., C.A. No. 13-562-GMS (D. Del. Sept. 23, 2013). The plaintiffs in the case were Delaware corporations with principal places of business in New York and Georgia. The defendant was a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Columbus, Ohio. Weighing the Jumara factors, Chief Judge Sleet concluded that only one factor weighed against transfer—the plaintiffs’ choice of forum—and that factor was not given maximum weight because the plaintiffs’ principal places of business were not located in Delaware. Id. at 4. On the other hand, three factors were found to slightly favor transfer: where the claim arose, the location of books and records, and “practical considerations.”
Although the “where the claim arose” factor typically is neutral when the defendant operates on a national level, here the defendant argued that it “never had a Delaware customer, and that the Accused Products have not been sold in Delaware, are marketed solely in and from Columbus, Ohio, and were developed in Columbus, Ohio.” Id. at 4. The plaintiffs argued that the defendant “solicits sales in Delaware via its website …, and maintains sales positions that service the greater Philadelphia area, Baltimore, and New York City,” but the Court found that the “where the claim arose” factor weighed slightly in favor of transfer to Ohio. Id. at 4-5. The Court also found that the location of books and records in Ohio slightly favored transfer. Id. at 6.

Although the Court found the “convenience of the parties” factor neutral, the considerations involved in weighing that factor resulted in the Court finding that “practical considerations” favored transfer. Specifically, the Court found that while the plaintiffs would have to travel to either forum, the defendant’s traveling costs would be “substantially reduce[d]” if the litigation were transferred to Ohio. This consideration was given more weight because the plaintiffs were far larger than the defendant (“$796 million corporation with 3,200 employees” versus “$20 million corporation with 134 employees”). Those considerations did not result in a finding that the “convenience of the parties” factor weighed in favor of transfer because the defendant had chosen to incorporate in Delaware and, “therefore, [could not] argue that it is an inconvenient forum,” but Chief Judge Sleet found that those considerations warranted transferring the litigation to Ohio based on practical considerations. Id. at 5, 7.

Verint Systems Inc., et al. v. CallCopy, Inc., C.A. No. 13-562-GMS (D. Del. Sept. 23, 2013).

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