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Dr. Khushi L. Matta v. Roswell Park Cancer Institute Corporation

July 26, 2011

DR. KHUSHI L. MATTA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROSWELL PARK CANCER INSTITUTE CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gabriel W. Gorenstein, United States Magistrate Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Khushi L. Matta has brought suit against the Roswell Park Cancer Institute Corporation ("Roswell"), Health Research Inc. ("HRI"), Photolitec LLC ("Photolitec"), Dr. Ravindra K. Pandey, and Dr. Thomas J. Dougherty (collectively, "the defendants") pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §§ 115, 116 and state law. The defendants have filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), or in the alternative, 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), seeking to transfer the action to the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed the original complaint on January 28, 2011, naming Roswell, HRI, and Drs. Pandey and Dougherty as defendants. See Complaint, filed Jan. 28, 2011 (Docket # 1). On June 3, 2011, defendants filed the instant motion seeking a transfer of the action from this Court (the "Southern District") to the United States District Court for the Western District of New York (the "Western District").*fn1 Shortly thereafter, plaintiff filed an amended complaint naming Photolitec as an additional defendant and raising a new state law claim. See Amended Complaint, filed June 13, 2011 (Docket # 19) ("Am. Compl.").*fn2 We will refer to this document as "the complaint."

B. Facts Relevant to Venue 1. Allegations in the Amended Complaint

The complaint alleges that plaintiff is the co-creator and inventor of certain carbohydrate compounds used to treat cancer. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-22. The defendants are alleged to have failed to designate plaintiff as the co-inventor of these compounds on applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, see id. ¶¶ 24-25, 30, despite the fact that they were aware of Dr. Matta's contributions, see id. ¶¶ 15-19, 29, 37.

The complaint asserts the following claims: (1) correction of inventorship under 35 U.S.C. §§ 115, 116; (2) tortious interference with prospective business relations; (3) unjust enrichment; (4) breach of contract; (5) tortious interference with business relations; and (6) misappropriation of idea. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 38-96.

2. The Parties

Dr. Matta "is a PhD[] chemist whose research since 1971 has focused on the field of carbohydrate chemistry . . . ." Id. ¶ 14. Currently, Dr. Matta resides in Williamsville, New York -- a suburb of Buffalo, New York, see id. ¶ 1, and is employed as "a professor emeritus at Roswell in the Cancer Biology Department," Pl. Memo at 1; see Cittone Decl. ¶ 2. Williamsville, New York is located in the Western District. Roswell is located in Buffalo, Am. Compl. ¶ 2, also in the Western District.

Dr. Pandey is the "Director of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at [Roswell], and a Professor with the Institute of Lasers, Photonics, and Biophotonics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Pandey Aff. ¶ 1. In addition, Dr. Pandey serves as the Chief Scientific Officer of Photolitec. Pandey Reply Aff. ¶ 1. Dr. Pandey resides in Williamsville, New York. Id. ¶ 2. Dr. Dougherty is "the Chief Emeritus Professor of Oncology at [Roswell], and a Research Professor of Radiation Oncology at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo." Dougherty Aff. ¶ 1. Dr. Dougherty resides in "Grand Island, New York, a suburb of Buffalo." Id. ¶ 2. Grand Island, New York is located in the Western District. Neither Dr. Pandey nor Dr. Dougherty (1) have bank accounts; (2) own real property; (3) employ any individuals; (4) have telephone numbers; (5) have post office boxes; or (6) maintain offices in the Southern District. See Pandey Aff. ¶¶ 4-9; Dougherty Aff. ¶¶ 4-9. Nor have they "designated an[] agent to receive process on [their] behalf in the Southern District." Pandey Aff. ¶ 10; Dougherty Aff. ¶ 10

Roswell "is a public hospital and medical research center in Buffalo owned and operated by the state of New York and its department of health." N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § 3551. Roswell is "the oldest cancer research and treatment facility in the country." Id. The institute's mission "from its inception has focused on research and the translation of research findings to the clinical setting." Id. Roswell is a "public corporation" organized under the laws of New York, see N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § 3553(1)(a), with its principal place of business in Buffalo, New York, see Am. Compl. ¶ 2. Roswell operates the New York state HIV/AIDS hotline which "provides referrals to free HIV testing centers, support groups, case management, housing and other HIV-related services for the State of New York (including New York City)." Roswell Park Center Research Institute Scientific Report 2009 (annexed as Ex. A to Cittone Decl.) at 5. In addition, Roswell receives funding from various entities that are located within the Southern District, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Avon, and various New York State programs. See id. at Pl. Memo at 3; Reply at 4 (Defendants do not contest this fact).

"HRI is a not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York, with its principal place of business located in Menands, New York (a suburb of Albany)." Nazarko Aff. ¶ 2. In addition, HRI has an additional "center[]of operations" on Roswell's campus in Buffalo. Id. ¶ 4. Menands, New York is in the Northern District of New York. The Nazarko Affidavit provides the following information with respect to HRI's functions and affiliations:

HRI is affiliated with the New York State Department of Health ("DOH"), and HRI's function is to assist, inter alia, [Roswell] and the DOH in evaluating and administering financial support services for research projects, including technology transfer. In this connection, HRI evaluates, solicits, and administers financial support for DOH and [Roswell] research ...


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