United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER OF TRANSFER
GEORGE Z. SINGAL, District Judge.
On November 19, 2014, the Court issued a Procedural Order requesting the parties to appear at oral argument on December 10, 2014 and to be prepared to explain why this Court should not transfer this case to the Northern District of Illinois. (See Procedural Order (ECF No. 20) at 1.) The Court also permitted the parties to submit supplemental briefing on this issue prior to oral argument. (See id.) Having reviewed the parties' submissions and considered the arguments presented to the Court on December 10, 2014, the Court hereby TRANSFERS this case to the Northern District of Illinois.
A. Factual Background
The S/V Halie & Matthew is a 79' fiberglass hulled gaff-rigged schooner. (Compl. for Decl. J. (ECF No. 1) ¶ 4.) Defendant Lakeshore Sail Charters, LLC ("Lakeshore") is a limited liability company organized under the laws of and with its principal place of business in Illinois. (Id. ¶ 3.) Lakeshore acquired the S/V Halie & Matthew with plans to have the ship participate in various Tall Ships Festivals throughout the Great Lakes during the summer of 2013. (April 3, 2014 Compl. for Breach of Contract and Other Relief filed in the Northern District of Illinois, N.D.Ill. Docket # 1:14-cv-02410 (ECF No. 13-1) ("N.D. Ill. Compl.") ¶ 9.)
Plaintiff Acadia Insurance Company ("Acadia") is a New Hampshire corporation authorized to do business in Maine. (Def. Acadia Insurance Co.'s Answer and Affirmative Defenses and Countercl. filed Oct. 6, 2014 in the Northern District of Illinois, 1:14-cv-02410 (ECF No. 22-1) ("Acadia's Counterclaim") Countercl. ¶ 2.) On June 12, 2013, Acadia issued commercial hull policy, No. CHA5107176-10, with a policy period of June 12, 2013 to June 12, 2014 to Lakeshore for the S/V Halie & Matthew. (Compl. ¶ 7.) On June 29, 2013, the S/V Halie & Matthews was damaged in a storm while en-route from Maine to Chicago. (Compl. ¶ 12.) The parties dispute whether the insurance contract provided coverage for loss of earnings of the S/V Halie & Matthew.
Plaintiff Acadia commenced this action against Lakeshore on December 16, 2013. (Compl. For Declaratory J. (ECF No. 1).) Through the Complaint for Declaratory Judgment Acadia seeks a judgment "declaring that Acadia Policy No. CHA5107176-10 does not provide coverage for the claims being asserted by Lakeshore Sail Charters, LLC for the alleged loss of earnings of the S/V Halie & Matthew [.]" (Compl. at Page ID # 3.)
The Complaint was not served on Defendant Lakeshore Sail Charters, LLC until April 28, 2014. Between the time that Acadia filed the Complaint in this Court and the time that Acadia served the Complaint on Lakeshore - a time period spanning four months - Lakeshore filed a Complaint For Breach of Contract and Other Relief in the Northern District of Illinois on April 3, 2014. (ECF No. 13-1.)
On April 28, 2014, Acadia moved to dismiss, or in the alternative, to transfer venue to the District of Maine the case filed by Lakeshore in the Northern District of Illinois. (Def. Acadia Insurance Company's Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alternative Transfer Venue (ECF No. 13-2).) On September 8, 2014, the Northern District of Illinois denied Acadia's motion to dismiss and declined to transfer the case to the District of Maine. (See Order (ECF No. 18-1) at 4-8.) On October 6, 2014, Acadia filed its Answer, Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaim in the Northern District of Illinois. (See Acadia Counterclaim (ECF No. 22-1).) For relief in its counterclaim, Acadia requests a judgment "declaring that Acadia Policy No. CHA5107176-10 does not provide coverage for the claims being asserted by Lakeshore Sail Charters, LLC for the alleged loss of earnings of the S/V Halie & Matthew [.]" (Id. at Page ID # 250.)
On June 2, 2014, Lakeshore moved to dismiss the Complaint for Declaratory Relief in this Court because this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Lakeshore, venue is improper in this Court and on equitable grounds. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. (ECF no. 13) at 2-6.)
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) 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 ...