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Penrose v. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 30, 2017

STEPHEN PENROSE, JAMES THOMAS, JOSEPH GUARDINO, and DANIEL POPE, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY, INC., OLD CHARTER DISTILLERY CO. and SAZERAC COMPANY, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue to the Western District of Kentucky, [Doc. No. 17]. Plaintiffs oppose the Motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied.

         Plaintiff filed this putative class action based on alleged violations of various state consumer protection laws. The Court's jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Defendants seek to transfer venue to the Western District of Kentucky pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Because Plaintiffs' choice of venue is entitled to considerable deference, and Defendants have not met their burden of showing the convenience of the parties and witnesses and the interest of justice strongly favor transfer to the Western District of Kentucky, the Court will deny the motion.

         Facts and Background

         Plaintiffs claim in this putative nationwide class action Defendants misrepresented that Old Charter bourbon has been aged 8 years through implication because the number 8 remains on its bottles. Previously, the bottles stated that the bourbon had been aged 8 years. The current bottles no longer state that the bourbon is “aged” 8 “years, ” rather, the bottles just contains the number 8 in the same location as the old bottles.

         Plaintiffs claim they were misled to believe that because the number 8 was still on the bottles, the bourbon continued to be aged 8 years. They claim Defendants purposely left the number 8 in the same location on the bottles to lead consumers to believe the bourbon had been aged 8 years when in fact, the bourbon is no longer aged for 8 years.

         Discussion

         Standard of Review

         A motion to transfer venue is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which provides that “a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, [and] in the interests of justice.” The purpose of section 1404(a) is to “prevent the waste of time, energy and money and to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.” Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964).

         When deciding a motion to transfer under section 1404(a), the Court considers three factors: (1) the convenience of the parties; (2) the convenience of the witnesses; and (3) the interest of justice. Terra Int'l, Inc. v. Miss. Chem. Corp., 119 F.3d 688, 691 (8th Cir. 1997). These factors merit “individualized, case-by-case consideration, ” in which courts “weigh in the balance a number of case-specific factors.” Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988). To prevail, the moving party must demonstrate the balance of the factors “strongly favors” transfer. See, e.g., Burks v. Abbott Labs., No. 08-3414, 2008 WL 4838720, at *1 (D. Minn. Nov. 5, 2008) (quoting Brockman v. Sun Valley Resorts, Inc., 923 F.Supp. 1176, 1179 (D. Minn. 1996)). “The Eighth Circuit has declined to offer an ‘exhaustive list of specific factors to consider' in making the transfer decision and has directed the courts to weigh any ‘case-specific factors' relevant to convenience and fairness to determine whether transfer is warranted. In re Apple, Inc., 602 F.3d 909, 912 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal citation omitted). The party requesting transfer has the burden to show that the balance of these factors favors it. Dube v. Wyeth LLC, 943 F.Supp.2d 1004, 1007 (E.D. Mo. 2013) (citing Moretti v. Wyeth, No. 07-CV-3920 DWF-SRN, 2008 WL 732497 at *1 (D. Minn. March 17, 2008)).” Christenson v. Citimorgage, Inc., No. 4:16-CV-1142 (CEJ), 2016 WL 7230432, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 14, 2016).

         “Ultimately, the decision to transfer a case is committed to the discretion of the district court.” Luckey v. Alside, Inc., No. 15-2512, 2016 WL 1559569, at *4 (D. Minn. Apr. 18, 2016) (quoting Jacques v. Dakota, Minn. & E. R.R. Corp., No. 07-248, 2008 WL 835651, at *1 (D. Minn. Mar. 27, 2008)).

         Here, the parties agree Plaintiffs could have brought this action in the Western District of Kentucky. The motion, thus, turns on whether Defendants have met their burden of showing the balance of the section 1404(a) factors strongly favor transfer.

         Motion to Transfer Venue

         Deference to ...


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