ThermaPure, Inc. v. Temp-Air, Inc., No. 10 C 4724, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 22, 2010) (Lefkow, J.).
Judge Lefkow granted defendants’ RxHeat and Cambridge Engineering’s (collectively "Cambridge") motion to dismiss or sever and Temp-Air’s motion to sever and transfer in this patent litigation involving the use of heat to remediate structures removing mold, bacteria, insects or rodents, among other things. Neither Cambridge nor Temp-Air were related to any of the other defendants. As such, their sales of different products could not satisfy the Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a) joinder requirement that the claims arise out of the same transaction or occurrence. It was not enough that plaintiff accused that each defendant infringed the same patent. Furthermore, plaintiff never identified which specific products it accused of infringement, even during briefing of the instant motion. So, there was no way for the Court to determine how similar the accused products actually were. The Court, therefore severed Cambridge’s and Temp-Air’s cases.
The Court then transferred Temp-Air’s case. ThermaPure’s choice of forum was given little deference because it was neither party’s home district. The situs of material events was Minnesota, where ThermaPure is headquartered and conducts most of its business. The fact that ThermaPure sold accused products to Illinois customers was unavailing. Additionally, most of the documents were located in Minnesota. Temp-Air only identified party witnesses, which are given less consideration, that were located in Minnesota. But ThermaPure did not identify any Illinois witnesses.
Neither party argued that either district would resolve the claims faster, and ThermaPure’s citation to the Northern District’s Local Patent Rules for reducing costs and expenses of the litigation was not relevant. The Court, therefore, transferred Temp-Air’s case to Minnesota. And having transferred the case as to Temp-Air, the Court stayed ThermaPure’s case against Temp-Air’s alleged Illinois customer Gierstsen Illinois. That case could be reopened, as necessary, in the Northern District after Temp-Air’s case was resolved, as it should significantly narrow, if not resolve, the claims against Gierstsen Illinois.