Greetings TCPA World from sunny South Florida!!
Countess, here, with a case out of my home court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania transferring a TCPA and FTSA Class Action down south.
In Simpson v. The J.G. Wentworth Company, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the TCPA and FTSA –i.e. Florida mini-TCPA – by making telemarketing calls using automated systems or prerecorded messages without first receiving the recipient’s prior express written consent. Defendant denies the allegations.
Plaintiff, a Floridian, moved to transfer the case to the USDC Middle District of Florida, citing Defendant’s recent discovery responses that the calls at issue were placed by a vendor or sub vendor of Digital Media Solutions, LLC (“DMS”). DMS has its principal place of business in the Middle District of Florida where Plaintiff resides. Makes sense to transfer, right? Defendant opposes arguing that Plaintiff should have filed in Florida initially. The Court disagreed and granted Plaintiff’s Motion.
The Court’s analysis is interesting, and I just love it when the Court shows up and gives a quick lesson on the law.
First, venue is proper in the Middle District of Florida because the action could have been brought in the MDFL, a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred in the MDFL and the State of Florida has an interest in adjudicating a dispute regarding an intentional tort harming one of its residents.
Second, the interests of justice weigh in favor of transfer. Relying on Jumara’s analysis of private and public interest factors to determine whether transfer is appropriate, the Court lays out a thorough analysis. Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 878 (3d Cir. 1995)
But first, the Court addressed Defendant’s argument that Plaintiff must show a “change of circumstances” since the initiation of the lawsuit. So, in other words, the court had time to educate…
The Court found that while there was some basis for Defendant’s argument, more recent cases have refused to view changed circumstances as a prerequisite to transfer. And still, frequently courts have required plaintiff to demonstrate either a change in circumstances or show that transfer is in the interest of justice.
“The correct standard is of little consequence in this case…”
Regardless of the standard for these facts, the Court found a change of circumstances because Plaintiff did not know DMS’ identity or whereabouts when he initially filed the action in the EDPA and this is weighs in favor of transfer to MDFL.
In tipping scale fashion, the Court evaluated Jumara’s private interest factors. Those include: (1) “plaintiff’s forum preference as manifested in the original choice”; (2) “the defendant’s preference”; (3) “whether the claim arose elsewhere”; (4) “the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition”; (5) “the convenience of the witnesses—but only to the extent that the witnesses may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora”; and (6) “the location of books and records (similarly limited to the extent that the files could not be produced in the alternative forum).” Concluding that the first, fifth and sixth factors are neutral, the third and fourth weigh slightly in favor of transfer and only the second factor weighs against transfer, the Court held that the private interest factors weights in favor of transfer.
Similarly, the Court evaluated Jumara’s public interest factors. Those include: (1) “the enforceability of the judgment”; (2) “practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive”; (3) “the relative administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion”; (4) “the local interest in deciding local controversies at home”; (5) “the public policies of the fora”; and (6) “the familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state law in diversity cases.”
The Court spent more time analyzing the public factors and found that the first, second, and fifth public interest factors are neutral, and the third, fourth, and sixth factors weigh slightly in favor of transfer. In support of the third factor, the Court found that the MDFL had less pending case than the EDPA. As to the fourth factor, the Court found that Florida has an interest in this case under the FTSA. Lastly the sixth factor found that MDFL judges are more familiar with the FTSA since those claims are not coextensive with the TCPA.
In short, the Court did not waste time to transfer the case to the MDFL. Hello, Sunshine State So, it’s one less case on a rolling docket. Til next time, Countess!!