Motion to Change Venue California
In Westinghouse Electric Corp. v. Superior Court (1976) the defendant corporation, Rohr, maintained its headquarters and principal place of business in San Diego County, built transit vehicles in San Diego County for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), and delivered those vehicles to Alameda County.
Rohr's contacts with Alameda County for purposes of section 394(a) included Rohr's temporary assignment of two employees to Alameda County, and its occasional purchases of goods and services in Alameda County. ( Westinghouse Electric Corp., supra, 17 Cal. 3d at pp. 271-273.)
Our Supreme Court concluded that Rohr could obtain a transfer of venue under section 394 because "these activities fail to establish, either individually or cumulatively, that Rohr does business in Alameda County." (Westinghouse Electric Corp., supra, at pp. 274-275.)
Additionally, the court discounted evidence of sales of buses in Alameda County by Rohr's subsidiary, holding that such sales "in no way diminish potential prejudice against Rohr," or "put Rohr in close association with the community." ( Id. at pp. 273-274.)
The reasoning of Westinghouse Electric Corp. was extended in San Francisco Foundation v. Superior Court (1984) 37 Cal. 3d 285 208 Cal. Rptr. 31, 690 P.2d 1 (San Francisco Foundation).
In that case, the foundation petitioned to modify the trust it administered to allow the use of trust income outside of Marin County, the only county designated by the trustor to receive trust funds.
Marin County responded by filing motions to remove the foundation as trustee and bar it from using trust funds contrary to the trust, and to disqualify the law firm representing the foundation on conflict of interest grounds. the foundation then sought a transfer to a neutral county under section 394(a). (San Francisco Foundation, supra, at pp. 291-292.)
While a mechanical application of Westinghouse Electric Corp. would have precluded a transfer given the foundation's substantial activities in Marin County, transfer was nonetheless found appropriate, as the Supreme Court held that "the relevant inquiry is whether, in light not only of the status of the foundation but also of the nature of the litigation, the foundation is reasonably likely to be viewed as an outsider." (San Francisco Foundation, supra, at pp. 297, 299-300.)
In finding that the foundation would likely be viewed as an outsider, the court emphasized that the judgment sought by Marin County:
(1) was based on conduct of the foundation directed from its principal office outside Marin County;
(2) would secure benefits for Marin County residents and prevent those benefits from being shared with residents of other counties;
(3) would have no adverse effect on the foundation's contribution to the county's economy. (Id. at pp. 299-301.)