Judge Robinson Grants Venue Transfer for “Unreasonable Burden” on Defendant

Written by: Jacob Blumert

In a recent order arising from Segway, Inc. et al. v. Inventist, Inc., Judge Robinson denied a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, while granting a motion to transfer venue.  No. CV 15-808-SLR (D. Del. April 25, 2016).  Specifically, Judge Robinson held that Inventist, Inc., Defendant, was subject to personal jurisdiction in the District of Delaware, but that a transfer of venue was warranted as litigation in the District of Delaware posed an unreasonable burden on the Defendant.  Id. at 8 and 10.

The case arose when Segway, Inc., a Delaware corporation, brought suit against Defendant for the sale of personal transportation devices in the United States.  Id. at 3.  Segway’s co-Plaintiffs, , DEKA Products Limited Partnership and Ninebot (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd., were not Delaware corporations, nor was Defendant, a Washington corporation.  Id.  

In reaching a decision on personal jurisdiction, Judge Robinson held that Defendant was subject to personal jurisdiction in Delaware as Defendant had purposefully directed its commercial activities toward the State of Delaware.  Id. at 8.  Judge Robinson noted that Defendant promotes itself on a national scale and indicated that its target market is national internet retailers and national retail chains having locations in Delaware.  Id.  Additionally, Defendant maintains an interactive website which allows consumers located in Delaware to purchase the products at issue.  Id.

Having established personal jurisdiction over Defendant, Judge Robinson moved on to the issue of venue.  Reviewing the well-established Jumara factors, Judge Robison noted that the location of Defendant’s witnesses, records, and relative levels of court congestion did not support transferring the case.  Id. at 9. 

Nonetheless, despite the involvement of a Delaware Plaintiff, Judge Robinson found that the transfer of venue was warranted, as Defendant was “accurately characterized as a regional enterprise for whom litigation in Delaware will impose an unreasonable burden.”  Id. at 10.  Judge Robinson premised this decision on the apparent disparity between the Defendant’s “global aspirations” reflected in its promotional materials, and its actual lack of physical or fiscal presence in Delaware.  Id. at 10.  Judge Robinson granted the motion to transfer venue to the Western District of Washington, Defendant’s home district.