Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiffs, citizens of Illinois, brought suit for patent infringement against a Texas corporation in the District Court of Texas. Defendant moved to transfer the case to the District Court of Illinois pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section: 1404(a), and the case was so transferred. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion in transferring the case.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A case can only be transferred under 28 U.S.C. Section: 1404(a) to a district where the case “may have been brought.” If the plaintiff could not have properly served the defendant in the transferee district, then transfer is not proper under the statute.
Issue. Does the federal statute 28 U.S.C. Section: 1404(a) that states the defendant may remove the action to any district “where it might have been brought” refers to jurisdictions where the action could have been brought at the time of filing?
Held. Yes. Affirmed.
The power of the District Court to transfer an action under the statute is limited to places where the plaintiff could have brought the action at the time it was filed, regardless of whether the defendant consents to the transfer.
By broadening the meaning of the statute’s words in the manner requested, the defendants would be able to transfer venue to anywhere where subject matter jurisdiction exists, and the plaintiff would not be able to do the same without the defendant’s consent. There is no evidence that the drafters intended this result.
Dissent. (This dissent only applies to Sullivan v. Behimer. Another dissent that applies only to Hoffman v. Blaski has been omitted from the casebook). Convenience and justice should always factor into “where the action might have been brought.” Congress has the intention to make venues comply with convenience and justice. Therefore, this rule should be qualified to take convenience and justice into consideration. This would comply with the doctrine of forum non conveniens.
Discussion. When evaluating whether a transfer of venue is proper, the focus is on the location of the defendants and the propriety of exercising personal jurisdiction and service of process.