United States District Court, D. Utah
F.H.G. CORPORATION, a Florida corporation, d/b/a CAPSTONE NUTRITION Plaintiff,
GREEN WAVE, INC., a California corporation, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO CHANGE VENUE
N. Parrish, United States District Court Judge
the court is Defendant Green Wave, Inc.'s Motion to
Change Venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Docket
lawsuit arises out of a contractual dispute between a
supplier of raw materials for nutritional products and a
manufacturer of nutritional supplements. The supplier, Green
Wave, Inc. ("Green Wave"), is a California
corporation with its principal place of business in La
Mirada, California. Green Wave imports raw ingredients for
dietary supplements, foods, drinks, cosmetics, and pet
products from China and other locations, and then sells those
ingredients to manufacturers across the United States. The
company maintains warehouses in both La Mirada, California
and Edison, New Jersey.
manufacturer, F.H.G. Corporation, operating as Capstone
Nutrition (“Capstone”), is a Florida corporation
with its principal place of business in Ogden,
Utah. Capstone manufactures nutritional
supplements and sports drinks for sale to distributors
throughout the United States. Until early last year, Capstone
maintained manufacturing facilities and offices in both Utah
and Tennessee. After recapitalization in April 2016, the
company divested itself of its Tennessee facilities and
relocated its entire manufacturing operation, staff, and
corporate structure to Utah.
15, 2015, Capstone ordered a significant amount of agmatine
sulfate, a common ingredient in certain nutritional
supplements, from Green Wave. Green Wave purchased the
requested ingredient from a “separate but affiliated
entity” known as Gulin Bio located in Shanghai, China.
(Docket No. 8, at 3). Gulin Bio, in turn, procured the
product from another Chinese supplier, known as Chang Zhou
Aide Biology Technology Company (“Chang Zhou”).
the ingredient arrived in the United States, it was processed
by Green Wave in its California and New Jersey warehouses.
Capstone representatives picked up 875 kilograms of the
ingredient from the California warehouse and 750 kilograms
from the New Jersey warehouse. Capstone then used the
ingredient to manufacture a powdered nutritional supplement
at its facilities in Tennessee and Utah. Capstone sold the
completed product to a Colorado-based distributor known as
MusclePharm. Shortly after receipt of the product,
MusclePharm notified Capstone that its own quality control
testing of the product had detected traces of 1, 3
dimethylbutylamine (“DMBA”), a substance banned
by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and many major
sporting organizations. As the presence of DMBA rendered the
product unsaleable, MusclePharm returned the entire shipment
to Capstone without payment. Capstone soon completed
additional testing, which confirmed the presence of DMBA and
allegedly identified the ingredient supplied by Green Wave as
the source of the adulteration. The adulterated product was
stored at Capstone's facilities in Tennessee until
sometime in early 2016, when it was moved to Capstone's
Utah warehouse as part of Capstone's recapitalization.
filed an action in diversity against Green Wave in the
District of Utah on October 6, 2016. (Docket No. 2).
Capstone's complaint alleges that Green Wave breached
certain warranties and contractual obligations by supplying
the purportedly tainted ingredient and seeks $1.3 million in
damages. (Id.). On December 5, 2016, Green Wave
filed the instant Motion seeking a transfer of the action to
the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1404(a). (Docket No. 8). On January 7, 2017, Capstone
filed its memorandum in opposition to the Motion. (Docket No.
14). Green Wave replied on January 30, 2017. (Docket Nos. 20,
21). At the request of Green Wave, oral argument was held on
the Motion June 19, 2017. (Docket No. 25). The court now
considers the arguments of the parties under jurisdiction
granted by 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
explained above, Green Wave requests transfer of this case to
the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C
§ 1404(a). Under that section, this court “may
transfer any civil action to any other district or division
where it might have been brought or to any district or
division to which all parties have consented.” 28 U.S.C
§ 1404(a). However, the court may make such an order
only upon a showing that “the convenience of parties
and witnesses” and “the interest of
justice” justify transfer. See id.; Atl.
Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 134 S.Ct. 568,
580 (2013) (explaining that § 1404(a) codified
“the doctrine of forum non conveiens for the
subset of cases in which the transferee forum is within the
federal court system”). Thus, any party moving for a
transfer under § 1404(a) must clearly demonstrate
“that: (1) the transferee court is a proper forum in
which the action could have been brought originally; and (2)
the transfer will enhance the convenience of the parties and
witnesses, and is in the interest of justice.”
Cmty. Television of Utah, LLC v. Aereo, Inc., 997
F.Supp.2d 1191, 1205 (D. Utah 2014) (citing Van Dusen v.
Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616, 634 (1964)).
neither party disputes that the Central District of
California is an appropriate transferee forum under §
1404(a). Accordingly, the court need only evaluate whether
the requested transfer will materially “enhance the
convenience of the parties and witnesses, and is in the
interest of justice.” See Id. Again,
“[t]he ‘party moving to transfer a case pursuant
to § 1404(a) bears the burden of establishing that the
existing forum is inconvenient.'” Emp'rs
Mut. Cas. Co. v. Bartile Roofs, Inc., 618 F.3d 1153,
1167 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting Scheidt v. Klein, 956
F.2d 963, 965 (10th Cir. 1992)); see also Tex. Gulf
Sulphur Co. v. Ritter, 371 F.2d 145, 147 (10th Cir.
1967). In evaluating the relative inconvenience of this forum
and the interest of justice, the court must consider
the plaintiff's choice of forum; the accessibility of
witnesses and other sources of proof, including the
availability of compulsory process to insure attendance of
witnesses; the cost of making the necessary proof; questions
as to the enforceability of a judgment if one is obtained;
relative advantages and obstacles to a fair trial;
difficulties that may arise from congested dockets; the
possibility of the existence of questions arising in the area
of conflict of laws; the advantage of having a local court
determine questions of local law; and all other
considerations of a practical nature that make a trial easy,
expeditious[, ] and economical.
Emp'rs Mut. Cas. Co., 618 F.3d at 1167 (brackets
omitted) (quoting Chrysler Credit Corp. v. Country
Chrysler, Inc., 928 F.2d 1509, 1516 (10th Cir. 1991)).
The parties here focus their arguments on (1) the weight
accorded Capstone's choice of forum; (2) the
accessibility of witnesses and other sources of proof in Utah
and California; (3) the relative cost of making necessary
proof in each forum; and (4) the relative congestion of court
dockets in each forum. The court addresses each of these
factors below and concludes that the balance of factors weigh
decidedly against transfer of this case to the Central
District of California.
PLAINTIFF'S CHOICE OF FORUM
court finds that the first factor-the plaintiff's choice
of forum-weighs heavily against transfer. “Unless the
balance is strongly in favor of the movant, the
plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be
disturbed.” Emp'rs Mut. Cas. Co., 618 F.3d
at 1168 (brackets and quotations omitted) (quoting
Scheidt v. Klein, 956 F.2d 963, 965 (10th Cir.
1992)). Thus, the court must normally accord “great
weight” to the plaintiff's choice of forum. KCJ
Corp. v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc., 18 F.Supp.2d 1212, 1214
(D. Kan. 1998). But, “where the facts giving rise to
the lawsuit have no material relation or significant
connection to the plaintiff's chosen forum, ” the
court treats plaintiff's choice of forum with
significantly less deference-assigning it ...