Judge Robinson Finds Personal Jurisdiction over Nevada Defendants, but Orders Transfer
Judge Robinson recently considered motions for a preliminary injunction, to dismiss, and to transfer in a Lanham Act case with colorful facts. Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Inc. v. Taylor Family Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 12-28-SLR (D. Del. Apr. 25, 2012). The case involves Capriotti’s, a Nevada corporation with franchised locations primarily in Delaware and Nevada.
Judge Robinson first determined that the defendant, Taylor Family Holdings, was amenable to jurisdiction and venue in the District of Delaware. TFH had initiated a second case in the Delaware Court of Chancery against Capriotti’s after Capriotti’s filed its complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction in the District Court. The Chancery litigation was stayed pending the outcome of the District Court litigation, and TFH moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Judge Robinson found that on these facts and consistent with various authority, “by filing the suit in the Delaware Court of Chancery, defendants at bar have waived jurisdictional defenses and consented to the jurisdiction of this court. Defendants ‘can claim no unfairness based upon this court’s exercise of jurisdiction over [them], since one who enjoys the full benefits of access to a forum’s courts as plaintiff may not simultaneously claim immunity from that forum's authority as defendant.’” Id. at 15-18 (citing Marron v. Whitney Group, 662 F. Supp. 2d 198 (D. Mass. 2009)).
Judge Robinson also heard testimony in support of the motion for a preliminary injunction and determined that a key witness was in Nevada and had not testified in Delaware. Because of this witness’s absence from the Delaware litigation, Judge Robinson refused to grant a preliminary injunction. Id. at 19-20. She also determined that the case was one where “the reasons to transfer strongly favor defendant,” and ordered transfer to the District of Nevada. Although Delaware was a legitimate venue, the dispute regarding the injunction “arose in Nevada between two Nevada-based businesses and only a Nevada court can exercise personal jurisdiction over critical fact witnesses.” Id. at 20-21.