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Interpret, LLC v. Crupnick

United States District Court, E.D. New York

June 25, 2018

INTERPRET, LLC, a California limited liability company, Plaintiff,
v.
RUSSELL CRUPNICK, an individual, and DOES 1-20, inclusive, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE [9]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Interpret, LLC (“Plaintiff”), a California limited liability company, filed this action against Russell Crupnick (“Defendant”), in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 12, 2018. (Compl., ECF No. 1-1.) Defendant removed the case on March 13, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue. (ECF No. 9.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion.[1]

         II. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On December 1, 2017, Defendant commenced a lawsuit against Plaintiff in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (“First-Filed Action”). (Decl. of Brent J. Lehman, Ex. 2, ECF No. 9.) In that case, Defendant alleges that Plaintiff violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law by misclassifying Defendant as an independent contractor. (Id.) On March 7, 2018, Plaintiff filed an answer in the First-Filed Action. (Mot. 2-3, ECF No. 9.)

         Five days later, on March 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant action against Defendant alleging the following claims: (1) intentional interference with contractual relations; (2) intentional interference with prospective economic relations; (3) negligent interference with prospective economic relations; (4) conversion; (5) unjust enrichment; (6) actual intent to defraud a creditor; (7) constructive fraudulent transfer; (8) violation of Bus. & Prof. Code §17200 - Count 1; (9) intentional misrepresentation; (10) negligent misrepresentation; and (11) violation of Bus. & Prof. Code §17200 - Count 2. (See generally Compl.)

         On May 14, 2018, Defendant moved to transfer this action to the Eastern District of New York under the first-to-file rule, or under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).[2] (Mot., ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff opposed the Motion on May 25, 2018. (Opp'n, ECF No. 12.) That Motion is now before the Court for decision.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the first-to-file rule, or comity doctrine, a district court may decline to exercise jurisdiction over an action when a complaint involving the same parties and issues has been filed in another district. Pacesetter Sys., Inc. v. Medtronic Inc., 678 F.2d 93, 94-95 (9th Cir. 1982). This doctrine seeks to conserve limited judicial resources and avoid duplicate or inconsistent judgments on similar issues. Id. at 95.

         In considering whether to apply this doctrine, the Court must consider: (1) the chronology of the two actions; (2) the similarity of the parties; and (3) the similarity of the issues. See Kohn Law Grp., Inc. v. Auto Parts Mfg. Miss., Inc., 787 F.3d 1237, 1240 (9th Cir. 2015). When analyzing a motion to transfer under the first-to-file rule, a district court generally should not weigh the usual transfer factors under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a), as those are reserved for consideration by the Court with the first-filed action. Pacesetter, 678 F.2d at 96-97. If a later-filed action meets the first-to-file requirements, the second court may transfer, stay, or dismiss the case. Alltrade, Inc. v. Uniweld Prods., Inc., 946 F.2d 622, 623 (9th Cir. 1991).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Defendant asserts that this action satisfies all three factors required for the first-to-file rule to apply, and therefore should be transferred to the Eastern District of New York. The Court agrees.

         A. Chronology of the Actions

         The first factor that must be satisfied is the chronology of the two actions. Id. at 625. Plaintiff contends that the first filed action was the arbitration claim it filed on November 10, 2017. (Opp'n at 9.) However, as Defendant correctly points out, the first-to-file rule applies only to complaints filed in federal court. (Reply 4, ECF No. 13. (citing Alltrade, Inc., 678 F.2d at 623 and Taylor v. AlliedBarton Sec. Servs. LP, No. 1:13-CV-01613-AWI, 2014 WL 1329415, at *8 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 1, 2014).) Defendant filed his suit on December 1, ...


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