United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE
began this litigation in May 2016 when they filed their
124-page, 318-paragraph complaint, alleging that Defendants
illegally criticized Plaintiffs' forestry practices.
Since then, the parties have filed over 300 pages of
argument, raising various issues. After a thorough review of
the record, the Court GRANTS Defendants' request to
transfer this case to the Northern District of California.
are in the forest-products industry. (Compl. ¶ 24.) They
plant and harvest trees and make, among other things,
different types of paper. (Id.) Plaintiffs have
locations in several cities, including Augusta, Georgia.
(Id.) Defendants Greenpeace International,
Greenpeace, Inc., Greenpeace Fund, Inc., and ForestEthics are
all nonprofit or charitable organizations. (Id.
¶¶ 31-34.) Defendant Todd Paglia is an employee of
ForestEthics, Defendants Daniel Brindis, Amy Moas, and Rolf
Skar are employees of Greenpeace, Inc., and Defendant Matthew
Daggett is an employee of Greenpeace International.
(Id. ¶¶ 35-39.) Defendants are
environmental activists. And as such, they often publicly
assail companies that they think are environmentally
2013, Defendants began the "Resolute: Forest
Destroyer7' campaign against Plaintiffs. (Id.
¶ 79.) As part of this campaign, Plaintiffs contend,
Defendants falsely accused Plaintiffs of harming the Boreal
Forest in Canada. (See id. ¶¶ 81-87.)
These attacks, according to Plaintiffs, caused Plaintiffs to
lose customers and millions of dollars in revenue.
(Id. ¶ 17.)
response to the Resolute: Forest Destroyer campaign,
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit, alleging, among other things,
federal and state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act ("RICO") claims. Plaintiffs
contend that Defendants have set out to illegally destroy
Plaintiffs' business. Defendants now move to transfer
this case to the Northern District of
California. (Docs. 57, 62.)
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2), venue is proper in "a
judicial district in which a substantial part of the events
or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred . . . ."
Thus, "[o]nly the events that directly give rise to a
claim are relevant[, ] [a]nd of the places where the events
have taken place, only those locations hosting a
'substantial part' of the events are to be
considered." Jenkins Brick Co. v. Bremer, 321
F.3d 1366, 1371 (11th Cir. 2003). The venue analysis
therefore demands stronger connections than the
minimum-contacts test used for evaluating personal
jurisdiction. See id. at 1372 (disagreeing with
another court's application of § 1391(b)(2)
"because its flavor was that of a 'minimum
contacts' personal jurisdiction analysis rather than a
proper venue analysis"); Bell v. Rosen, CV
214-127, 2015 WL 5595806, at *4 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 22, 2015)
("[T]he venue analysis under Section 1391(b)(2)
generally requires a greater level of relevant activities by
the defendants than the 'minimum contacts' analysis
for personal jurisdiction.").
Venue is Improper in the Southern District of
argue that venue is improper in this district because no
events giving rise to Plaintiffs' claims occurred here.
Plaintiffs contend that venue is proper here because (1) the
Resolute: Forest Destroyer campaign caused Plaintiffs to lose
a number of Georgia-affiliated customers and (2) Defendants
traveled to Augusta to spread false information about
Plaintiffs' Alleged Loss of Customers in Georgia
allege that Defendants and other Greenpeace associates
"made false and misleading statements" about
Plaintiffs to five Georgia-affiliated companies, causing some
of the companies to cut ties with Plaintiffs. (Compl.
¶¶ 198-207.) They allege, for example, that Richard
Brooks, a nonparty Greenpeace employee, held a conference
call with YP, a customer of Plaintiffs, during which Brooks
"made false and misleading statements about
Resolute's operations in the Boreal Forest."
(Id. ¶ 200.) As another example, Plaintiffs
allege that Brooks threatened The Home Depot, another
customer, "with market campaigns and in-store
demonstrations if The Home Depot continued to buy from
Resolute." (Id. ¶ 201.) They also claim
that Defendants targeted Kimberly-Clark and P&G, other
customers, with false information about Plaintiffs.
(Id. ¶¶ 202-206.) And, Plaintiffs allege,
Defendants "prevented Resolute from securing a large
contract with one of the world's leading manufacturers of
tissue paper, Georgia Pacific . . . ." (Id.
argue that these contacts are connected to Georgia because
(1) YP participated in the conference call from its
headquarters in Tucker, Georgia, (2) The Home Depot is
headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, (3) Defendants
communicated with Kimberly-Clark executives working from the
company's offices in Roswell, Georgia, (4) Plaintiffs
supplied paper to P&G's plant in Albany, Georgia, and
(5) Georgia Pacific is based in Atlanta, Georgia. But
Plaintiffs do not allege any connection to this district:
Tucker, Roswell, and Atlanta are located in the Northern
District of Georgia, and Albany is located in the Middle
District of Georgia. Thus, even if Defendants'
communications with these customers are actionable,
Plaintiffs have failed to establish that a substantial part
of the events giving rise to the claims occurred in this