Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bozic v. USDC (9th Cir. - April 25, 2018)

I'll occasionally read cases in which a win is actually a loss, or a loss actually a win.  But today I read a case where a loss is a win except it's a loss.  This one.  Unusual for sure.

Plaintiff files a lawsuit in the Southern District of California, and doesn't want to get it transferred to the Eastern District (where a related class action is pending).  But the district court sends it there.  So plaintiff files a writ of mandamus.

The Ninth Circuit denies the writ.  That's a loss.  But the Ninth Circuit also expressly says that it was error for the district court to transfer the case to the Eastern District, since venue was improper there.  That's a win.  Particularly since it's a decision that the relevant district court will practically have to follow upon remand.  The Eastern District will have to transfer the case back and/or the Southern District will have to reconsider the propriety of -- and withdraw -- its transfer order.  Again: Victory.

Yet it's still a loss.  The case is going to be stayed anyway in favor of a related pending state court class action.  So none of this matters.  Nothing's really going to happen anywhere anyway.

Still, a neat little civil procedure issue, with a relevant holding on the merits even though the Ninth Circuit dismisses the writ.

P.S. - Judge Friedland's opinion says that transfer was improper largely by relying on the Supreme Court's decision in Hoffman, and the opinion repeatedly cites the relevant statute (transfers proper only "to any other district or division where it might have been brought.”) as it read back then.  Just a reminder, though, that the statute was amended thereafter -- in a direct (albeit belated) response to Hoffman -- and now ends with ". . . or to any district or division to which all parties have consented."  The effect of that amendment is somewhat disputed in the lower courts, and it's unclear whether that amendment matters in the present case, since the opinion doesn't mention whether all relevant parties (e.g., defendant) consented to have the case transferred to the Eastern District.  (Though it looks like it did, since it filed the motion to transfer.  There may be a lingering question whether "all" in this regard really means "all").  So the relevant statutory amendment might have merited at least brief mention and/or discussion.