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Xerox Corporation, A New York Corporation v. Arizona Digital Products

April 13, 2011

XEROX CORPORATION, A NEW YORK CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARIZONA DIGITAL PRODUCTS, INC.,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

In this action, Xerox Corporation ("Plaintiff") is suing its former authorized sales agent, Arizona Digital Products, Inc. ("Defendant") for breach of contract, conversion, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition. In a prior Decision and Order (Docket No. [#22]), the Court granted Defendant's motion to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration [#23], brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("FRCP") 54(b). The application is denied.

RULE 54(b) STANDARD

FRCP 54(b) provides that any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities. "Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) as well as the inherent power of the court to reconsider a prior decision at any time before the entry of final judgment, the major grounds justifying reconsideration are an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Shervington v. Village of Piermont, 732 F.Supp.2d 423, 425 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (citations omitted). 28 U.S.C. § 1404 STANDARD 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides that, "[f]or 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." With respect to such an application,

[i]n order to transfer a civil action under section 1404(a), the moving party must satisfy two requirements. First, the transferee court must be able to exercise jurisdiction over the parties and must be an appropriate venue for the action. Second, the balance of convenience and justice must favor transfer. Although the first requirement is straightforward, the second requirement is essentially an equitable task left to the Court's discretion. Relevant factors include the: (1) deference accorded to plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) convenience to witnesses and parties; (3) situs of operative facts; (4) interests of justice and judicial economy; (5) relative ease of access to sources of proof; (6) availability of process to compel unwilling witnesses; (7) relative means of the parties; and (8) forum's familiarity with the governing law.

When conducting this balancing test, the court enjoys broad discretion and decides based on notions of convenience and fairness on a case-by-case basis. The movant bears the burden of showing that transfer is warranted.

Not all of the above factors merit equal weight. When plaintiff does not reside in and the operative facts bear little connection to the forum district, plaintiff's choice is shown less deference.

The convenience of witnesses is the most important factor in deciding whether to transfer an action, although the court does not generally consider witnesses located outside both the current and transferee districts. The location of documents, on the other hand, is not a compelling consideration when records are easily portable. For the purpose of determining the "situs of operative facts," a court may make reasonable assumptions regarding the location of events if they are not clearly specified in the complaint.

Harrison v. Samuel, No. 05 Civ. 8914 (SAS), 2006 WL 1716867 at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jun. 20, 2006) (Citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

When considering the relative means of the parties, "a mere shifting of inconveniences is not grounds for transfer." Arrow Electronics, Inc. v. Ducommun Inc., 724 F.Supp. 264, 266 (S.D.N.Y. 1989) (citation omitted). However, such factor may warrant a change of venue, where "a dramatic disparity in means exists," and where the defendant has made a showing that defending the action in the current district would be "unduly burdensome." Id. This is true even where both parties are corporations. See, Actmedia, Inc. v. Ferrante, 623 F.Supp. 42, 44 (S.D.N.Y. 1985) ("It would be both unfair and unjust to require the corporate defendant, a small start up operation, to defend a suit here concerning acts which took place some 3,000 miles away. Indeed, in such circumstances, even if plaintiff's case had no merit, it would succeed if through the expense and disruption of litigating in this district [defendant was] eliminated as a viable competitor."); see also, 800-Flowers, Inc. v. Intercontinental Florist, Inc., 860 F.Supp. 128, 135 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) ("Here, while ICF is not an individual, there is a disparity between the relative means of the two corporations. As plaintiff has conceded, 800-Flowers has far greater economic resources than ICF. ICF has been in business for less than a year with only a single place of business in Orlando, Florida. Accordingly, litigation in a distant forum could pose a significant financial burden on ICF. Thus, ICF's ability to effectively litigate could potentially be impaired if forced to litigate in New York. On the other hand, plaintiff has offices nationwide, with far greater capital at its disposal. While the Court is mindful that since both parties are corporations and thus this factor is not as significant as if the litigation were between an individual and a corporation, this factor, nevertheless, supports [a transfer of venue].") (Involving application of the "first filed rule," but noting, id. at 133, that "[t]he interests analysis under the first to file rule includes consideration of the same factors considered under a 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) transfer motion.").*fn1

BACKGROUND

In its prior Decision and Order, the Court set forth the following facts that pertain to the motion to transfer:

Plaintiff is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in Connecticut, and with offices around the world, including in Rochester, New York. Plaintiff is a Fortune 500 company with over fifty-thousand employees. Defendant provides copier and printer services to businesses in the vicinity of Phoenix, Arizona. Defendant is an Arizona corporation with its sole place of business in Scottsdale, Arizona. Defendant is a small business with seven ...


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