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Blazer v. Chrisman Mill Farms LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

October 16, 2017

BRIAN ROBERT BLAZER, d/b/a CARPENTER BEE SOLUTIONS, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISMAN MILL FARMS LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS, United States District Judge

         On February 27, 2017, Plaintiff Brian Robert Blazer, d/b/a/ Carpenter Bee Solutions (“Mr. Blazer”)[1] initiated this action against Defendant Chrisman Mill Farms, LLC (“CMF”)[2]. (Doc. 1). In his Amended Complaint (doc. 3), Mr. Blazer alleges, inter alia, that CMF infringed a patent that he owns, specifically, U.S. Patent No. 8, 375, 624 (“the '624 Patent”), which covers an insect trap meant for carpenter bees. He also alleges a breach of contract claim.

         On May 31, 2017, CMF a motion to transfer venue of this action to the Eastern District of Kentucky. (Motion, doc. 12; brief, doc. 13). Mr. Blazer opposed the Motion on June 14, 2017. (Doc. 16). CMF replied on June 21, 2017. (Doc. 17). Thus, the Motion is now ripe for determination.

         I. Procedural Background

         This case has an interesting and, indeed, in this judge's experience, unique procedural background. Because that background features prominently in Mr. Blazer's opposition to the Motion, it will be set out in this Memorandum Opinion.

         The short version is that CMF was selling carpenter bee traps that infringed Mr. Blazer's patent. When Mr. Blazer told CMF he had a patent that covered CMF's traps, CMF agreed. Mr. Blazer and CMF then entered into a license agreement permitting CMF to sell the traps and obligating CMF to pay royalties to Mr. Blazer. The license agreement expired in December 2016.

         Because it no longer had a license, CMF modified its carpenter bee trap in a manner that it believed avoided the claims covered by Mr. Blazer's patent. CMF sold its modified carpenter bee trap through sites such as Amazon. Mr. Blazer told CMF the modified trap infringed his patent. Mr. Blazer also notified Amazon and other sites that CMF's trap infringed his patent. The notified sites dropped the modified trap from their sites.

         On January 6, 2017, CMF preemptively filed a declaratory judgment law suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (the “DJ Action”)[3]. CMF sought a declaration that CMF's modified traps did not infringe Mr. Blazer's patent. Mr. Blazer filed a motion to dismiss or transfer (to this district) the DJ Action on the basis that the court hearing the DJ action did not have personal jurisdiction - either general or special - over him. That court agreed that it lacked personal jurisdiction and transferred the action to this district, where this action had been filed and where personal jurisdiction existed as to both Mr. Blazer and CMF. In the first page of its twenty-two page Memorandum Opinion and Order, that court stated

The Court finds that it lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant after considering the parties' briefs and arguments. As a result, this action will be transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406, where venue is proper and a companion case is currently pending.

Chrisman Mill Farms, LLC v. Brian R. Blazer, d/b/a Carpenter Bee Solutions, Civil Action No. 5:17-011-DCR (E.D. Ken.), Doc. 36, filed April 19, 2017.[4]

         Upon transfer to this district, the DJ Action was docketed as Chrisman Mill Farms, LLC v. Brian R. Blazer, d/b/a Carpenter Bee Solutions, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-647-SGC (N.D. Ala.). Because the parties did not consent to full jurisdiction of Magistrate Judge Staci G. Cornelius, the transferred DJ Action was randomly reassigned to the undersigned district judge (on May 16, 2017). The parties filed an agreed Stipulation of Dismissal (of the transferred DJ Action) on May 22, 2017. On May 23, 2017, the undersigned judge entered a final dismissal order (dismissing the transferred DJ Action).

         On May 30, 2017, CMF filed an Answer, Defenses and Counterclaims in the present action. CMF's counterclaims in this action sets out the matters which had been stated as claims in the DJ Action.

         On May 31, 2017, CMF filed the present Motion (to transfer venue). The Court takes judicial notice that, on July 6, 2017, Mr. Blazer filed, in the transferred DJ Action, a Motion for Relief from Judgment under Rule 60. The asserted basis for re-opening the transferred DJ Action is that CMF's present Motion constitutes fraud on this Court. (See Chrisman Mill Farms, LLC v. Brian R. Blazer, d/b/a Carpenter Bee Solutions, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-647-VEH, doc 45). That motion is also under submission and will be dealt with by separate order.

         II.The ...


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