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Hansen v. Combined Transport, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

November 7, 2013

CHRIS HANSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMBINED TRANSPORT, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE

ROBERT S. LASNIK, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on "Defendants Motion To Transfer Venue and Supporting Memorandum (28 U.S.C. §§ 1404(a))." Dkt. # 5. Having reviewed the memoranda, declarations, and exhibits submitted by the parties, the Court finds that defendants have met their burden of showing that the overall convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interests of justice, weighs in favor of transferring the above-captioned case to the United States District Court for the District of Oregon.[1]

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff asserts claims of unpaid wages, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful discharge, and wage claim retaliation against defendants under Oregon and Washington law. Dkt. # 1. Plaintiff brought suit against defendants in King County Superior Court. Dkt. # 14. Defendants removed the action to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Id . Defendants now move to transfer the action to the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Dkt. # 14.

DISCUSSION

I. TRANSFER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)

Section 1404 provides: "For 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." The moving party has the burden of showing that the overall convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interests of justice, weighs in favor of transferring the above-captioned case to the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co. , 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986).

Section 1404(a) is the statutory equivalent of the common law doctrine of forum non conveniens where the alternative forum is within the territory of the United States. Ravelo Monegro v. Rosa , 211 F.3d 509, 512-13 (9th Cir. 2000). "[T]he central focus of the forum non conveniens inquiry is convenience...." Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno , 454 U.S. 235, 248-49 (1981). Generally, "a plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be disturbed. However, when an alternative forum has jurisdiction to hear the case, and when trial in the chosen forum would establish... oppressiveness and vexation to a defendant... out of all proportion to plaintiff's convenience, ' or when the chosen forum [is] inappropriate because of considerations affecting the court's own administrative and legal problems, ' the court may, in the exercise of its sound discretion, dismiss the case." Piper Aircraft , 454 U.S. at 241 (citations omitted).

Under both the forum non conveniens and venue doctrines, the Court must make an individualized, case-by-case determination of convenience and fairness when considering a change in venue. Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp. , 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988). Factors that may be considered include: "(1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (4) the respective parties' contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiff's cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling nonparty witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof." Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc. , 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 2000). Other relevant considerations are (9) the presence of a forum selection clause and (10) the relevant public policy of the forum state. Id.

A. District in Which the Action "Might Have Been Brought"

There is no real dispute regarding the availability of the District of Oregon as an alternative forum. The moving party acknowledges that it is subject to personal jurisdiction in that district for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2), and plaintiff does not argue that a substantial part of the events giving rise to his claims did not occur in the District of Oregon. The Court therefore finds that this action could have been brought in the District of Oregon.

B. Individualized Determination of Convenience and Fairness

1. Location where relevant agreements were negotiated and executed

The parties dispute where the majority of the agreement was negotiated. Defendants assert that Mr. Hansen interviewed for the position in Central Point, Oregon, and that the employment agreement was negotiated and executed in Oregon. Dkt. # 5. According to plaintiff's declaration, plaintiff negotiated the agreement with defendants from his home in Washington, and did not interview for the position in Oregon. Plaintiff's Decl., ¶4. Plaintiff admits to traveling to Oregon to discuss potential employment with defendants. Id . Finally, plaintiff asserts that he signed the Letter of Agreement with defendants in Washington, and scanned and emailed the signed copy back to defendants. Id., at ¶ 5. Defendants then executed the agreement in Oregon, and emailed a scanned copy of the document back to ...


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