Recent Mandamus Rulings from the Federal Circuit in Delaware Cases
On December 2, 2011,the Federal Circuit granted a petition for a writ of mandamus reversing the District of Delaware’s denial of a motion to transfer venue. In re Link_A_Media Devices Corp., Misc. Doc. No. 990 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2011). The Court of Appeals ordered the District Court to transfer the case to the Northern District of California, finding that the exacting standard for a writ of mandamus had been satisfied.
In Marvell Int’l v. Link_A_Media Devices, C.A. No. 10-869-SLR (D. Del. June 8, 2011), a Bermuda plaintiff brought suit against a defendant incorporated in Delaware. The District Court denied defendant Link_A_Media Devices’ motion to transfer. The court found that transfer was not warranted in part because “the plaintiff’s choice of forum is still of paramount consideration.” Id. at 3. The court also stated that “because [the defendant] is a Delaware corporation, it has no reason to complain about being sued in Delaware” and noted that it was not “persuaded by [the defendant’s] arguments regarding convenience.” Id. at 4-5. (Read more about Judge Robinson’s denial of the motion to transfer here.) The Federal Circuit, however, granted mandamus and ordered transfer. The Federal Circuit specifically held that “the district court placed far too much weight on the plaintiff’s choice of forum.” In re Link_A_Media Devices Corp., Misc. Doc. No. 990, at 4 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2011). The Federal Circuit also found that the district court’s “heavy reliance on the fact that [the defendant] was incorporated in Delaware was similarly inappropriate” and that the “district court also erred when it found that consideration of the public interest factors did not favor either forum.” Id. at 5-6.
Earlier this year, the Federal Circuit denied a petition for a writ of mandamus in In re Xoft, Inc., Misc. Doc. No. 983 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 19, 2011). In that case, New York and German plaintiffs brought suit against a defendant incorporated in Delaware. Judge Stark accepted Magistrate Judge Thynge’s report recommending that defendant Xoft’s motion to transfer to the Northern District of California be denied. Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc. v. Xoft, Inc., C.A. No. 10-308-LPS-MPT (D. Del. Mar. 30, 2011). Judge Thynge found that the scales were not sufficiently tipped in favor of transfer where Delaware was the plaintiff’s choice of forum, the defendant was incorporated in Delaware, and the location of witnesses and evidence were neutral or weighed only slightly in favor of transfer. Judge Stark agreed with this recommendation and rejected Xoft’s “proposition that Judge Thynge placed too much weight on the fact that Xoft is incorporated in Delaware and too little weight on the fact that Zeiss’s headquarters is in Northern California.” Id. at 2. Judge Stark found that “Judge Thynge thoughtfully explained that the convenience of witnesses and location of sources of proof -which are considered only to the extent that they are ‘unavailable’ - were either ‘neutral’ or weighed ‘only slightly in favor of transfer’” and “made clear that, in the Third Circuit, a plaintiff s choice of forum -which Xoft concedes is a ‘paramount consideration’ - should not be lightly disturbed.” Id. at 3. (Read more about Judge Thynge’s denial of the motion to transfer here.) The Federal Circuit considered the argument that “the district court placed too much emphasis on the plaintiff’s choice of forum” and refused to grant mandamus. See In re Xoft, Inc., Misc. Doc. No. 983, at 3 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 19, 2011). The Federal Circuit specifically ruled that “[i]n the Third Circuit, that choice is afforded considerable weight and should not be lightly disturbed. The district court properly considered the relevant factors for a transfer motion and determined that the factors did not strongly favor transfer.” Id.