Caesar Rivise Wins Motion to Transfer Case to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
Posted on Mar 4, 2016 in News
In the case of Access Business Group LLC v. BattleChem Distribution, Inc. and Divi’s Laboratories, LTD., 1:13-cv-00828-RJJ (US DC Western District of Michigan), the Honorable Robert J. Jonker on March 3, 2016 granted defendants’ Motion to Transfer a breach of contract and breach of warranty action to the Central District of California. The alleged breaches involve the sale of beta carotene, an ingredient used in the manufacture of children’s vitamins. Caesar Rivise, PC represents the Defendants, i.e., the distributor of the product, BattleChem Distribution Inc., and the manufacturer of the beta carotene, Divi’s Laboratories Inc. BattleChem is located in the Central District of California. The plaintiff is Access Business Group, LLC (i.e., Amway).
The court found that jurisdiction was based solely on diversity of citizenship under 28 USC 1332. The court noted that ABG is organized under Michigan law while BattleChem is located in California. ABG’s California subsidiary, Nutrilite submitted the purchase orders for the product at issue and all communications and dealings occurred among Divi’s (India), Divi’s USA Inc. (not a party to the case) and BattleChem.
The court noted that the convenience of the witnesses is often the most important factor in a transfer analysis and that most of the events underpinning the lawsuit occurred in India or California and most of the witnesses reside either in India or California. The court found that sources of proof are more accessible in California where the contracts were negotiated and the product was delivered and inspected. In addition, Indian witnesses would be able to travel more easily to California than to Michigan.
The court ultimately concluded the case would thus be tried less expensively and more expeditiously in the Central District of California. The court steadfastly rejected ABG’s assertion that Divi’s India was bound by a Michigan choice of law provision and forum selection clause in its purchase terms because Divi’s India was not a party to that contract and so those contractual terms did not apply to it. The court found the forum selection clause to be permissive, not mandatory.