United States District Court, District of Columbia
WINMAR CONSTRUCTION, INC. Plaintiff,
JK MOVING & STORAGE, INC. Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
G. Sullivan United States District Judge
before the Court is defendant JK Moving & Storage,
Inc.'s (“JK Moving”) motion to dismiss
plaintiff Winmar Construction, Inc.'s
(“Winmar”) complaint, or, in the alternative,
transfer venue to the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Virginia. See Def.'s Mot.,
ECF No. 6. Upon consideration of the motion, the response and
reply, the applicable law, and the entire record, JK
Moving's motion shall be GRANTED IN PART
and this proceeding shall be TRANSFERRED to
the United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Virginia (“Eastern District”).
a District of Columbia (“D.C.”) commercial
construction corporation, brings this complaint against JK
Moving, a Virginia moving and storage corporation. See
generally Compl., ECF No. 1. In 2016, Winmar was hired
to renovate the Hilton Crystal City at Washington Reagan
National Airport Hotel (“the Hilton”).
Id. ¶ 2. To accomplish the renovations, Winmar
entered into five contracts with JK Moving to move and store
the Hilton's furniture. Id. ¶ 3. The
relevant contracts were negotiated and signed in D.C. between
February and December 2016. Id. The furniture was
moved from the Hilton, located in Arlington, Virginia, and
stored in JK Moving's warehouse, located in Sterling,
Virginia. Exhibit 1 to Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 6-1 at 12. To
date, Winmar has paid JK Moving nearly $115, 000 for its
services. Compl., ECF No. 1 ¶ 5. JK Moving has demanded
that that Winmar pay the additional $50, 000 allegedly owed
pursuant to the contracts. Id. ¶ 6. Winmar
alleges that JK Moving damaged sixteen pieces of furniture
and converted thirteen pieces of furniture. Id.
Winmar also alleges that the contracts are void because JK
Moving does not have a moving and storage license, as
required by D.C. law. Id. ¶¶ 13-17.
to collect the entire sum allegedly owed, JK Moving sued
Winmar and its President, Edwin Villegas, for breach of
contract and fraud in Loudoun County Circuit Court on October
12, 2017. See Eastern District Compl., ECF No. 6-1.
Winmar then removed the case to the Eastern District. Notice
of Removal, ECF No. 6-3. Winmar answered JK Moving's
complaint on November 7, 2017, denying the allegations and
asserting the affirmative defenses “set forth in
Winmar's Complaint filed against JK Moving in the United
States District Court for the District of Columbia.”
Eastern District Answer, ECF No. 6-2 ¶¶ 1, 2.
October 18, 2017, Winmar filed its Complaint against JK
Moving in this Court. See generally Compl., ECF No.
1. Winmar's three count complaint seeks: (1) a
declaratory judgment that the contracts are void under D.C.
law; (2) damages resulting from JK Moving's alleged
conversion of thirteen pieces of furniture; and (3) damages
resulting from JK Moving's alleged negligence in moving
and/or storing the furniture. Id. ¶¶
13-27. Winmar's complaint concerns the same contracts at
issue in the Eastern District case. Compare D.C.
Compl., ECF No. 1 with Eastern District Compl., ECF
Standard of Review
stated by this Court:
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), “[f]or the
convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to
any other district where it might have been brought.”
In so doing, the district court has discretion to transfer a
case based on an “‘individualized case-by-case
consideration of convenience and fairness.'”
Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29
(1988) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612,
622 (1964)); see also Demery v. Montgomery County,
602 F.Supp.2d 206, 210 (D.D.C. 2009) (“Because it is
perhaps impossible to develop any fixed general rules on when
cases should be transferred[, ] . . . the proper technique to
be employed is a factually analytical, case-by-case
determination of convenience and fairness.”) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The moving party bears the burden
of establishing that transfer of the action is proper.
Devaughn v. Inphonic, Inc., 403 F.Supp.2d 68, 71
(D.D.C. 2005); see also SEC v. Savoy Indus., Inc.,
587 F.2d 1149, 1154 (D.C. Cir. 1978) (noting that the
district court's denial of a motion to transfer
“was effectively a ruling that [the appellant] had
failed to shoulder his burden”).
In order to justify a transfer, defendants must make two
showings. First, they must establish that the plaintiff could
have brought suit in the proposed transferee district.
Devaughn, 403 F.Supp.2d at 71-72; Trout
Unlimited v. United States Dep't of Agric., 944
F.Supp. 13, 16 (D.D.C. 1996). Second, defendants must
demonstrate that considerations of convenience and the
interests of justice weigh in favor of a transfer.
Devaughn, 403 F.Supp.2d at 72; Trout
Unlimited, 944 F.Supp. at 16.
Berry v. United States Dept. of Justice, 49
F.Supp.3d 71, 74-75 (D.D.C. 2014).
determine whether “considerations of convenience and
the interests of justice weigh in favor of a transfer,
” the Court considers private-interest factors
including: “(1) the plaintiff's choice of forum,
unless the balance of convenience is strongly in favor of the
defendant; (2) the defendant's choice of forum; (3)
whether the claim arose elsewhere; (4) the convenience of the
parties; (5) the convenience of the witnesses, but only to
the extent that witnesses may be unavailable in one fora; and
(6) the ease of access to sources of proof.”
Id. at 75 (citations omitted). Finally, the Court
considers whether certain public-interest factors weigh in
favor of transfer, including “(1) the transferee's
familiarity with the governing laws, (2) the relative
congestion of each court, and (3) the local interest in
deciding local controversies at home.” Id. at
77 (quoting Montgomery v. STG Int'l, Inc., 532
F.Supp.2d 29, 34 (D.D.C. 2008)(additional citations omitted).
Winmar Could Have Brought this Suit in the ...