Friday, October 01, 2021

Apple succeeds in mandamus action in Fintiv case. Covid issues at the courthouse??

The outcome:

Apple Inc. petitions for a writ of mandamus directing the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to vacate its order transferring this case from the Austin Division of the Western District of Texas to the Waco Division and to stay that order pending disposition of the petition. Because the district court cites no statutory authority for its re-transfer and because Austin remains the more convenient forum, we grant the petition and direct the district court to vacate its order.


Our review here is governed by Fifth Circuit law. See In re TS Tech USA Corp., 551 F.3d 1315, 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2008). When a writ of mandamus is sought, we review a decision to transfer for a clear abuse of discretion. See In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 310 (5th Cir. 2008) (en banc).

In In re Intel Corp., we explained that the only authority for an intra-district re-transfer without full consent of the parties is 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). 841 F. App’x 192, 193–95 (Fed. Cir. 2020). Under § 1404(a), a district court “should not re-transfer except under the most impelling and unusual circumstances,” such as unanticipated “post-transfer events [that] frustrate the original purpose for transfer.” In re Cragar Indus., Inc., 706 F.2d 503, 505 (5th Cir. 1983) (cleaned up). Further, a re-transfer analysis should be “based on the traditional factors bearing on a § 1404(a) analysis” and “should take into account the reasons of convenience that caused the earlier transfer.” Intel, 841 F. App’x at 195.

Here, the district court inexplicably failed to perform that analysis, giving “the parties and reviewing courts no way of understanding how the court reached its conclusion and providing no assurance that it was the result of conscientious legal analysis.” In re Lloyd’s Reg. N. Am., Inc., 780 F.3d 283, 291 (5th Cir. 2015). The district court articulated no authority in its order to re-transfer, explaining only that “it remains uncertain whether the Austin courthouse will be open for jury trial in the foreseeable future.” Re-Transfer Order at 1. Not only is this explanation minimal, but it is also not supported by any analysis of the traditional § 1404(a) factors. Nor is there any indication that the Austin courthouse is currently closed for trial. The district court even acknowledged that some civil trials are proceeding in Austin and that there is a possibility of “being able to use a courtroom in Austin” and “mov[ing] forward with [the trial] in Austin.” Appx175–77.


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