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SAMINSKY v. OCCIDENTAL PETROLEUM CORP.

April 8, 1974

Beatrice SAMINSKY, as Executrix of the Estate of Hyman L. Saminsky, Plaintiff,
v.
OCCIDENTAL PETROLEUM CORP. and Armand Hammer, Defendants (And Twelve Other Actions)


Robert J. Ward, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WARD

ROBERT J. WARD, District Judge.

Certain defendants move to consolidate the above numbered cases for purposes of a motion to transfer and to transfer these cases, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), to the Central District of California. The remaining defendants join in the motions. For the reasons hereinafter stated, the motions are granted.

 The cases at bar are purported class and derivative actions based on the federal securities laws. The gravamen of the complaints is that defendants allegedly omitted or misrepresented material facts relating to defendant Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s ("Occidental") tanker fleet operations in its 1970 Annual Report, issued in May, 1971; a prospectus, dated June 16, 1971, issued in connection with a public offering of its 7 1/2% convertible subordinated debentures; a prospectus, dated July 29, 1971, issued in connection with a public offering of its common stock; and certain press releases issued in the fall of 1971 and in February, 1972. There is no question that jurisdiction and venue are properly laid in this district.

 Section 1404(a) 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 criteria to be applied by the Court in exercising its discretion under § 1404(a) were set forth in Schneider v. Sears, 265 F. Supp. 257, 263 (S.D.N.Y. 1967):

 
"* * * These include: (1) the convenience to parties; (2) the convenience of witnesses; (3) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (4) the availability of process to compel attendance of unwilling witnesses; (5) the cost of obtaining willing witnesses; (6) the practical problems indicating where the case can be tried more expeditiously and inexpensively; and (7) the interests of justice, a term broad enough to cover the particular circumstances of each case, which in sum indicate that the administration of justice will be advanced by a transfer. [footnotes deleted]."

 Although plaintiffs' choice of forum is a factor to be accorded weight,

 
"* * * the significance of a plaintiff's choice of forum is somewhat diminished in a class action, for, as the Supreme Court has stated:
 
'* * * Where there are hundreds of potential plaintiffs, * * * all of whom could with equal show of right go into their many home courts, the claim of any one plaintiff that a forum is appropriate merely because it is his home forum is considerably weakened. ' [Koster v. Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., 330 U.S. 518, 524, 67 S. Ct. 828, 91 L. Ed. 1067 (1947); additional citations in footnote deleted].
 
"This rationale, announced in connection with a derivative action, is applicable, albeit with somewhat less force, to the instant class actions, each of which is brought on behalf of substantially the same class, the members of which are alleged to be so numerous and so scattered geographically as to make it impossible or impracticable to bring them all before this court. [footnotes deleted]." Schneider v. Sears, supra at 266.

 Plaintiffs are purchasers of convertible subordinated debentures and common stock issued by defendant Occidental. Some of them may be witnesses at trial on the issues of reliance and damages.

 Occidental is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Los Angeles. It does not maintain an office in New York, although some Occidental subsidiaries, which apparently have no connection with the claims in these cases, maintain offices here.

 Of the eleven surviving present and former officers and directors of Occidental named as defendants in the instant complaints, seven reside in California, one resides in Greenwich, Connecticut, one in Fort Lauderdale, ...


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