United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Tire Service Equipment Mfg. Co., Inc., Plaintiff,
Gaither Tool Co., Defendant.
Alan M. Anderson, Esq., and Aaron C. Nyquist, Esq., Alan Anderson Law Firm LLC, counsel for Plaintiff.
Erin O. Dungan, Esq., and Michael M. Lafeber, Esq., Briggs & Morgan, PA; and Mark E. Wiemelt, Esq., Wiemelt Knechtel, counsel for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Transfer Venue (Doc. No. 9) and a Motion to Stay (Doc. No. 14) brought by Defendant Gaither Tool Co. ("Defendant"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies both motions.
Plaintiff Tire Service Equipment Mfg. Co., Inc. ("Plaintiff") is a Minnesota corporation with its headquarters located in Phoenix, Arizona, and a manufacturing facility in Monticello, Minnesota. (Doc. No. 1, Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff is the owner by assignment of all right, title, and interest in U.S. Patent No. 6, 179, 033 B1, entitled "Method and Apparatus for Seating Tubeless Tires" (the '033 Patent"). ( Id. ¶ 5.)
Defendant is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Jacksonville, Illinois. ( Id. ¶ 3.) In this action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant makes, uses, sells, and offers for sale a product for seating tubeless tires (the Bead Bazooka product) that infringes one or more claims of the '033 Patent. ( Id. ¶¶ 6, 9-16.)
Defendant now moves to transfer the action to the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. (Doc. No. 9.) Defendant also moves to stay this action pending the resolution of the motion to transfer venue. (Doc. No. 14.)
I. Motion to Transfer
Defendant moves to transfer this action to the Central District of Illinois pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). That section provides: "For the convenience of the 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). When deciding a motion to transfer pursuant to section 1404(a), the Court must consider the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and the interests of justice. See Terra Int'l, Inc. v. Miss. Chem. Corp., 119 F.3d 688, 691 (8th Cir. 1997). Such a determination requires a "case-by-case evaluation of the particular circumstances at hand and a consideration of all relevant factors." Id. The burden is on the party seeking the transfer "to show that the balance of factors strongly' favors the movant." Graff v. Qwest Commc'ns Corp., 33 F.Supp.2d 1117, 1121 (D. Minn. 1999). Here, there is no dispute that this case "might have been brought" in the Central District of Illinois. The Court therefore considers the relevant transfer factors.
"[S]ection 1404(a) provides for transfer to a more convenient forum, not to a forum likely to prove equally convenient or inconvenient, and a transfer should not be granted if the effect is simply to shift the inconvenience to the party resisting the transfer." Id. Normally, there is a presumption in favor of the plaintiff's choice of forum. Id. Defendant advocates for transfer, claiming that Minnesota is an inconvenient forum for both parties. Defendant contends that neither Plaintiff nor Defendant resides or has its principal place of business in Minnesota. Defendant also asserts that the majority of material witnesses and documentary evidence pertaining to the allegedly infringing product are found in Illinois. Further, Defendant asserts that: Plaintiff's headquarters are located in Phoenix, Arizona; Plaintiff's officers, shareholders, and directors reside in Arizona; and Plaintiff's records pertaining to the relevant patent are located in Arizona. (Doc. No. 12, Brahler Decl. ¶¶ 3-7.)
Plaintiff, however, asserts that Minnesota is not an inconvenient forum, and that its manufacturing and primary location is in Monticello, Minnesota. (Doc. No. 24, Sprunk Decl. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff maintains that all of its manufacturing, design, and equipment shipments take place at the Monticello facility, along with "most of its business activities." ( Id. ) Plaintiff submits that a number of employees at the Monticello facility have knowledge related to the patent-in-suit, the commercial embodiment of the patent, and of Defendant's allegedly infringing product. ( Id. ¶ 9.) These employees include Plaintiff's manufacturing and engineering managers. ( Id. ) Plaintiff acknowledges that its executive offices are located in Phoenix, Arizona, but asserts that the Arizona office is responsible solely for "accounting and sales related paperwork." ( Id. ¶ 8.) ...