United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
IN RE INTERIOR MOLDED DOORS ANTITRUST LITIGATION IN RE INTERIOR MOLDED DOORS INDIRECT PURCHASER ANTITRUST LITIGATION
A. GIBNEY, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
these consolidated class actions, the plaintiffs allege that
the defendants, Masonite Corporation and Jeld-Wen, Inc.,
conspired to fix prices in the interior molded doors market
in violation of federal and state antitrust laws. Masonite
has moved to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a) to the Middle District of Florida or alternatively
the District of Delaware.For the reasons that follow, the Court
will deny the motion.
a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business
in Florida, and Jeld-Wen, a Delaware corporation with its
principal place of business in North Carolina, manufacture
interior molded doors ("IMDs") and
"doorskins." Doorskins account for about 70 percent
of the manufacturing cost of IMDs. In 2012, Jeld-Wen acquired
Craftmaster International, Inc. ("CMI"), a major
doorskin manufacturer. After the merger, the defendants
collectively controlled 100 percent of the doorskin industry
and roughly 85 percent of the IMD market in the United
States. Because the manufacturers comprising the other 15
percent of the IMD market did not manufacture doorskins, they
had to purchase doorskins from the defendants.
2014, Jeld-Wen began raising doorskin prices to other IMD
manufacturers, including those with whom Jeld-Wen had
long-term supply agreements. One such manufacturer, Steves
& Sons, Inc., refused to pay the increased costs and
tried to find another supplier. Steves approached Masonite,
the only other major doorskin manufacturer in North America,
but Masonite refused to enter into a long-term supply
agreement with Steves. Shortly thereafter, Masonite publicly
announced that it would no longer sell doorskins to other IMD
manufacturers, leaving Jeld-Wen as the only major
manufacturer of doorskins in North America and, consequently,
Steves' and other IMD manufacturers' only option.
October, 2016, Steves sued Jeld-Wen in the Eastern District
of Virginia, alleging that Jeld-Wen's acquisition of CMI
violated section 7 of the Clayton Act because it
substantially decreased competition in the residential door
market. In February, 2018, a jury awarded Steves
$58 million ($175 million after trebling). The Court also
ordered Jeld-Wen to completely divest CMI. Jeld-Wen has moved
for a new trial-a motion currently pending.
heels of the Steves verdict, two groups of
plaintiffs began filing these lawsuits in the Eastern
District of Virginia against Masonite and Jeld-Wen. The
direct purchaser plaintiffs-those who purchased IMDs directly
from the defendants-allege that Masonite and Jeld-Wen
conspired with each other to adopt uniform price increases
for IMDs after Jeld-Wen acquired CMI in violation of section
1 of the Sherman Act. Soon thereafter, the indirect purchaser
plaintiffs-those who purchased the defendants'
IMDs through a third-party, such as a reseller-brought suit
against the defendants. They also allege that the defendants
violated section 1 of the Sherman Act. In addition, the
indirect purchaser plaintiffs assert violations of various
state antitrust laws, consumer protection laws, and unjust
has moved to transfer venue to the Middle District of Florida
or alternatively the District of Delaware. The plaintiffs ask
the Court to keep these consolidated actions in the Eastern
District of Virginia because of their close factual and legal
relationship with Steves.
the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to
any other district... where it may have been brought."
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In deciding whether to transfer
venue, a decision that "is committed to the district
court's sound discretion," the Court makes two
inquiries: "(1) whether the claims might have been
brought in the transferee forum, and (2) whether the interest
of justice and convenience of the parties and witnesses
justify transfer to that forum." Koh v. Microtek
Intern., Inc., 250 F.Supp.2d 627, 630 (E.D. Va. 2003).
The moving party "bears the burden of showing that
transfer is proper," JTH Tax, Inc. v. Lee, 482
F.Supp.2d 731, 736 (E.D. Va. 2007), and "must also
demonstrate that transfer does more than merely 'shift
the inconvenience' to the other party," id.
(quoting DMP Corp. v. Fruehauf orp., 617 F.Supp. 76,
77 (W.D. N.C. 1985)).
Court must first determine whether the plaintiffs could have
brought their claims in the Middle District of Florida or the
District of Delaware. Because the Clayton Act provides
special jurisdiction and venue requirements for private
antitrust actions, including claims under the Sherman Act,
the general venue provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1391 do not
apply here. See 15 U.S.C. § 22. Under the
Clayton Act, a plaintiff may bring suit either "in the
judicial district whereof [the defendant] is an
inhabitant" or "in any district wherein [the
defendant] may be found or transacts business."
Id. "To be found in a district for the purposes
of the venue section of the Clayton Act, a corporation must
have duly authorized officers and agents carrying on the
business of the corporation within the district."
Reynolds Metals Co. v. Columbia Gas Sys., Inc., 669
F.Supp. 744, 747 (E.D. Va. 1987).
each defendant "may be found" and "transacts
business" in the Middle District of
Florida. 15 U.S.C. § 22; see Reynolds
Metals Co., 669 F.Supp. at 747. Thus, venue would have
been proper in the Middle District of Florida. Furthermore,
the defendants are both incorporated in Delaware and thus
"inhabitants" of Delaware. See In re Automotive
Reflnishing Paint Antitrust Litig., 358 F.3d 288, 293
n.6 (3d. Cir. 2004) ("Being an 'inhabitant' is
held to mean incorporated under the laws of that
jurisdiction."). Accordingly, venue also would have been
proper in the District of Delaware. Because the plaintiffs
could have brought their claims in either the Middle District
of Florida or the District of Delaware, Masonite satisfied
the first requirement under § 1404(a).
Factors to ...