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First Interstate Bank v. VHG Aviation, LLC

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 1, 2018

FIRST INTERSTATE BANK, Plaintiff,
v.
VHG AVIATION, LLC; VGH AVIATION, LLC; JAMES VALVANO; CHRISTOPHER GILCHRIST; and TSE, INC., Defendants.

          David W. Criswell and Bruce H. Cahn, Lane Powell PC, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Edwin C. Perry, Tonkon Torp LLP, Lawrence J. Moran and Luke P. Moran, Joyce, Carmody & Moran, PC, Of Attorneys for Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael H. Simon United States District Judge

         Two motions are pending before the Court: Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (ECF 10); and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF 13). In response to Plaintiff's request for summary judgment, Defendants rely on Rule 56(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and argue that Plaintiff's motion should be denied or deferred. Defendants request sufficient time to take discovery of facts that Defendants contend are exclusively in the possession of Plaintiff but may support an affirmative defense. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) is denied, and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is deferred.

         STANDARDS

         A. Transfer of Venue Pursuant to Section 1404(a)

         A district court may transfer any civil action to any other district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). That statute provides:

For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.

28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Consideration of a motion to transfer venue under § 1404(a) requires two findings. First, unless all parties consent, the court being asked to transfer venue must determine whether the transferee court is one in which the action originally might have been brought. Second, the court that is being asked to transfer venue must determine whether transfer is appropriate, considering the convenience of parties and witnesses and the interest of justice. See Hatch v. Reliance Ins. Co., 758 F.2d 409, 414 (9th Cir. 1985). As explained by the Ninth Circuit,

the district court has discretion to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness. A motion to transfer venue under § 1404(a) requires the court to weigh multiple factors in its determination whether transfer is appropriate in a particular case. For example, the court may consider: (1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (4) the respective parties' contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiff's cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof. Additionally, the presence of a forum-selection clause is a significant factor in the court's § 1404(a) analysis. We also conclude that the relevant public policy of the forum state, if any, is at least as significant a factor in the § 1404(a) balancing.

Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks, footnotes, and citations omitted).

         The ordinary analysis of a motion to transfer venue under § 1404(a) changes, however, when the parties have formed a contract that includes a valid forum-selection clause. Atl. Marine Const. Co., Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court for W. Dist. of Tex., 134 S.Ct. 568, 581 (2013). A court must give a forum-selection clause “controlling weight in all but the most exceptional cases.” Id. at 579 (citation and quotation marks omitted). The party seeking a forum other than the contractually agreed-upon forum identified in the forum-selection clause bears the burden of showing exceptional circumstances that render the selected forum inappropriate. Id. at 581. In evaluating whether a party has established that the agreed-upon forum is inappropriate, a court should refrain from “unnecessarily disrupt[ing] the parties' settled expectations” when the parties have agreed “in advance to litigate disputes in a particular forum.” Id. at 583. In addition, when the parties' agreement includes a forum-selection clause, a district court “should not consider arguments about the parties' private interests. . . . A court accordingly must deem the private-interest factors [including inconvenience to the parties] to weigh entirely in favor of the preselected forum.” Id. at 582. In such a case, a district court may only consider arguments concerning public-interest factors, which will “rarely” support a forum other than the parties' contractually agreed-upon forum. Id. “In all but the most unusual cases, therefore, ‘the interest of justice' is served by holding parties to their bargain.” Id. at 583.

         B. Summary Judgment and Rule 56(d)

         A party is entitled to summary judgment if the “movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Clicks Billiards Inc. v. Sixshooters Inc., 251 F.3d 1252, 1257 (9th Cir. 2001). Although “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary judgment, ” the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position [is] insufficient . . . .” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 255 (1986). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         Under certain circumstances, it may be appropriate for a court to defer considering a motion for summary judgment, or even to deny it without prejudice, when the party opposing the motion shows that it cannot yet present facts essential to justify its opposition. Rule 56(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides:

When Facts Are Unavailable to the Nonmovant. If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to ...

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