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DeFrank v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

December 13, 2019

LISA DEFRANK, et al., Plaintiffs,



         This matter comes before the Court upon the Motion to Transfer Venue filed by Defendant Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (“Samsung”). (Doc. 26). Named Plaintiffs Lisa DeFrank, Chris Garcia, Mark DiTroia, Carl Gersh, Wendy Dowds, Maria Keene, and Ashley Nuibe, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. 28), and Samsung filed a Reply (Doc. 29). For the reasons set forth below, Samsung's Motion will be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         According to the Amended Complaint, Samsung is responsible for designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling consumer clothes drying machines (“dryers”) with a faulty design or manufacturing process, resulting in a defect that rendered the dryers unusable for their stated purpose. (Doc. 22, ¶ 1). Plaintiffs purchased the dryers in question through various retailers between December 2011 and May 2017 (Id., ¶¶ 23, 33, 41, 50, 61, 69, 77), and allege that Samsung's use of “thin-gauge steel . . . and/or defective fly wheels, ” eventually caused large cracks in the drum and subsequent exposure of the heating element (Id., ¶ 6).

         Plaintiffs seek class certification pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and accordingly propose a single nationwide class in addition to six subclasses composed of individuals who purchased one or more of 164 models of Samsung dryers (Id., Attach. A) in the states of California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Illinois, and Florida.[1] (Id., ¶ 137). The Amended Complaint contains eleven counts against Samsung, including two under federal law on behalf of the nationwide class (or, alternatively, on behalf of each of the state subclasses), three under California law, two under Ohio law, and one each under the state laws of New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, and Florida. (Id., ¶¶ 146-260).

         Plaintiffs filed their Initial Complaint (Doc. 1) and, in response to Samsung's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16), filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 22). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1)(B). Samsung responded by filing the currently pending Motion to Transfer Venue, arguing that the balance of the relevant factors strongly supports transfer of this action to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. (Doc. 26).

         II. Standard of Law

         In relevant part, the statute governing changes of venue 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. . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The district courts retain broad discretion to adjudicate motions to transfer venue on an “individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.” Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964)); see Artisan Dev., Div. of Kaiser Aetna v. Mountain States Dev. Corp., 402 F.Supp. 1312, 1314 (S.D. Ohio 1975) (“[D]ecisions on transfer motions are left in large measure to the sound discretion of the district court judge and that discretion is broader than traditionally permitted or exercised under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.”).

         While a plaintiff's original choice of venue is entitled to “considerable weight, ” the court should also examine “both the private interest of the litigants and the public's interest in the administration of justice.” Hanning v. New England Mut. Life Ins. Co., 710 F.Supp. 213, 214 (S.D. Ohio 1989); accord Moses v. Bus. Card Express, Inc., 929 F.2d 1131, 1137 (6th Cir. 1991) (“[P]ublic-interest concerns, such as systemic integrity and fairness . . . come under the rubric of ‘interests of justice.'”). Ultimately, the moving party bears the burden of proving that transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) will serve the interests of justice and not merely shift inconvenience from one party to another. Hanning, 710 F.Supp at 215.

         III. Analysis

         Of the named Plaintiffs (and proposed class representatives) in the Amended Complaint, two reside in Ohio, and one each reside in the states of California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New Mexico. (Doc. 22, ¶¶ 22, 32, 40, 49, 60, 68, 76). Samsung is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey. (Doc. 26 at PageID 202).

         a. District of New Jersey

         The Court must first consider whether the present action might have been brought in the District of New Jersey. See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). “An action ‘might have been brought' in a transferee court if: (1) the [transferee] court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action; (2) venue is proper there; and (3) the defendant is amenable to process issuing out of the transferee court.” Collaborative Sys. Grp. v. Grove, No. 1:10cv543, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195814, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 18, 2012) (citing Sky Tech. Partners, LLC v. Midwest Research Inst., 125 F.Supp.2d 286, 291 (S.D. Ohio 2000)). Under the general venue statute, “[a] civil action may be brought in . . . a judicial district in which any defendant resides. . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1). The parties do not dispute that this matter could have been brought in the District of New Jersey (Doc. 26, PageID 206); (Doc. 28, PageID 222), and the Court, after reviewing the Amended Complaint, concurs.

         b. Public and ...

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