Abuse of discretion to deny transfer where some factors favor transfer and none weigh against it

Fed. Cir. granted a mandamus petition and vacated the denial of motions to sever and transfer claims against Toyota and a motion to stay the remaining claim against its co-defendant and distributor, Gulf States. In addition to the district court's finding that no factors favored venue in E.D. Tex. while several favored venue in Michigan, the Fed Cir noted that availability of compulsory process and cost of attendance for willing witnesses also favored Michigan some witnesses resided there, while no witnesses resided in E.D. Tex. and "[t]he comparison between the transferor and transferee forums is not altered by the presence of other witnesses and documents in places outside both forums." Slip op. at 4.

In re Toyota Motor Corporation, __ F.3d __ (Fed. Cir. Apr. 3, 2014) (Prost, O'Malley, TARANTO) (E.D. Tex.: Schneider) (3 of 5 stars)

But, even on its own terms, "the district court's analysis presents a clear overall picture: nothing favors the transferor forum, whereas several factors favor the transferee forum. The analysis may not show that the transferee forum is far more convenient. But that is not what is required. With nothing on the transferor-forum side of the ledger, the analysis shows that the transferee forum is 'clearly more convenient.'" Id. at 5 (emphasis in original). The Fed. Cir. thus vacated the transfer determination, and remanded for the district court to address whether it should sever co-defendant Gulf States from Toyota with instructions that, if the court severs Gulf States, the remainder of the case must be transferred.

This blog post article first appeared on Fish’s Litigation Blog. Regular updates from the Federal Circuit can be view here.