United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER TRANSFERRING CASE
S. Lasnik, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on defendants'
“Motion to Transfer Venue or Stay Pursuant to
First-to-File Rule or, in the Alternative, Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a).” Dkt. # 8. Having reviewed the
memoranda, declarations, and exhibits submitted by the
parties,  the Court finds as follows:
case involves defendants' alleged failure to secure data,
resulting in the disclosure of the confidential information
of millions of defendants' customers. Plaintiffs allege
that, despite receiving warnings that their customers'
data was exposed and accessible, defendants did nothing to
protect the data until May 24, 2019, when a cybersecurity
researcher and journalist announced the defect on his blog.
At least twenty-one class actions, many of which are brought
on behalf of a nationwide class, have been filed relating to
the alleged disclosures of confidential information. The
first-filed action was filed in the Central District of
California and assigned to the Honorable Dale S. Fischer for
handling: most of the other cases have already been
transferred to Judge Fischer as related (intradistrict) or
under the first-to-file rule (interdistrict). The Judicial
Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPMDL”)
recently declined to centralize proceedings under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1407, noting that where there are a small number of
cases and most are already pending in a single district,
outright transfers under the first-to-file rule or 28 U.S.C.
§ 1404 are preferable to limited pretrial transfers.
argue that this case should be transferred to the Central
District of California under the first-to-file rule, which
allows a district court to transfer, stay, or dismiss an
action when a complaint involving the same parties and issues
has already been filed in another district. Alltrade,
Inc. v. Uniweld Prods., Inc., 946 F.2d 622, 625 (9th
Cir. 1991). The rule “is intended to serve the purpose
of promoting efficiency well and should not be disregarded
lightly.” Kohn Law Grp., Inc. v. Auto Parts Mfg.
Miss., Inc., 787 F.3d 1237, 1239 (9th Cir. 2015)
(internal quotation marks and brackets omitted). A court
considers three factors in deciding whether to apply the
first-to-file rule: the chronology of the two actions, the
similarity of the parties, and the similarity of the issues.
Alltrade, 946 F.2d at 625. The Court finds that the
first-to-file rule applies.
argue, however, that a transfer to the Central District of
California is inappropriate because, if a nationwide class is
not certified or if Washington insurance law provides
protections that are unavailable to the residents of other
states, transfer may ultimately force Washington residents to
litigate claims brought under Washington law in a California
court. Plaintiffs offer no reason to believe that
the Central District is incapable of resolving the class
certification issues (including certifying statewide
subclasses if appropriate) or of resolving issues of
Washington law. In its current posture, this case involves a
nationwide class that directly competes with the classes
asserted in the cases pending in the Central District of
California. While “district court judges can, in the
exercise of their discretion, dispense with the first-filed
principle for reasons of equity, ” the circumstances
justifying deviation from the first-to-file rule include bad
faith, anticipatory suit, or forum shopping.
Alltrade, 946 F.2d at 628. Plaintiffs do not argue
that defendants filed prior lawsuits or acted in bad faith:
rather, they hypothesize that their own claims on behalf of a
nationwide class will be rejected and the resulting
litigation will be more complicated than if this action were
tried alone. The Court finds, however, that judicial
efficiency, case management considerations, and avoiding the
risk of inconsistent verdicts all support transfer so that a
single district can determine how best to resolve the
competing and overlapping claims asserted in these cases.
Deviation from the first-to-file rule is not appropriate.
parties dispute whether this case should be heard in the
Western or Southern Division of the Central District of
California. The Central District manages its own division
management and case assignment, however, and the Court
declines to interfere in these matters.
of the foregoing reasons, defendants' motion to transfer
is GRANTED. The Clerk of Court is directed to transfer this
case to the Central District of California where the first
action was filed.
 This matter can be decided on the
papers submitted. Defendants' request for oral argument
 Plaintiffs also argued that
defendants' motion to transfer was premature because the
JPMDL had not yet decided whether to centralize pretrial
proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 1407. The JPMDL has now
denied the motion to transfer. In this context, plaintiffs
represent that they would be willing to coordinate discovery
efforts with the majority of cases pending in the Central
District of California ...