A few weeks ago, we discussed a case where Judge Noreika transferred a trademark case under 1404, citing court congestion. This week, Chief Judge Connolly made a similar move, transferring a contract claim to Florida based largely on the relative congestion of the two courts.
The plaintiff in Arthrex, Inc. v. Nat'l Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, PA , C.A. No. 22-465 (D. Del. Nov. 8, 2022), was a Delaware entity, headquartered elsewhere and none of the defendants had any particular Delaware connection. As is often the case in a patent action, the facts of the dispute -- which related to coverage under an insurance contract -- had no particular connection to Delaware either.
Analyzing the Third Circuit's Jumara transfer factors, the Court found only one weighed strongly in favor of transfer - relative administrative difficulty due to court congestion:
According to the most recent data provided by the United States Courts, the weighted case filings per active judgeship in this District between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 were 873. By comparison, the weighted case filings per active judgeship in the Middle District of Florida for that period were 570 and the national weighted case filings per active judgeship were 501. Notably, these statistics do not take into consideration the availability of senior judges to help active judges handle their caseloads. Delaware has no senior judges; whereas the Middle District has 14. Given these statistics, it is not surprising that the median time from the filing of a civil case to trial in the Middle District is 29 .9 months as compared to 36 months in this district. U.S. District Courts, supra.
Arthrex, at 9 (Cleaned up)
Four other factors favored transfer at least slightly -- the claim arose elsewhere, administrative convenience for Arthrex employee witnesses, local interest of Florida in deciding local controversies, and of course the defendants' forum preference.
This is more or less exactly how I'd expect these factors to play our in the average Delaware patent case between parties headquartered elsewhere. We'll keep a look out for further cases that involve a defendant actually incorporated in Delaware, although its difficult to see how that would factor strongly into the Jumara analysis.