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Judge Abrams Finds That Working from Home Does Not Mean Venue is Proper

On October 2, 2019, District Judge Ronnie Abrams (S.D.N.Y.) granted Defendant Quora Inc.’s (“Quora”) motion to transfer the case to the Northern District of California.

Quora is a Delaware corporation. While Plaintiff NetSoc, LLC (“NetSoc”) alleged that Quora’s principal place of business is in New York, Quora stated that its principal place of business is actually in Mountain View, California and that: “it does not own property in New York City, nor does it hold itself out as doing business from any employee’s residence in New York City.” Quora noted that it hired a salesperson who worked remotely from his home in New York when not at Quora’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

The Court addressed whether NetSoc met its burden of demonstrating that Quora “has a regular and established place of business in the district.” And the Court determined that NetSoc did not meet that burden. First, the Court reiterated that venue is analyzed at the time the action was commenced. Therefore, venue was assessed as of December 12, 2018, prior to Quora’s usage of WeWork office space in New York City. NetSoc was unable to rebut Quora’s assertion that “it does not conduct business” in any physical address in New York prior to the filing of this action. The Court noted that Quora having a registered agent for service of process in New York is irrelevant to the inquiry of whether Quora has a “physical place in the district” for purposes of venue.

The Court also found that NetSoc’s suggestion that a single Quora employee working from home constituted a place of business belonging to Quora was without merit. NetSoc provided no facts to rebut Quora’s assertions that “the employee paid for his own living expenses or that it does not hold itself out as doing business from any employee’s New York residence” and found that there was no basis to infer that “the employee’s employment was conditioned on him working in New York, or that he was selling Quora’s products from his home.” The Court also noted that a website “cannot constitute a basis for finding venue.”

While NetSoc did request leave to conduct venue discovery, the Court denied the request because NetSoc failed “to make any showing that the discovery it seeks is likely to uncover additional facts that could support a finding that the home of the single sales employee constituted a place of business for Quora, or that it was regular and established.”   Because the Court found that Quora did not have a “regular and established place of business” when the Complaint was filed, the Court transferred the action to the Northern District of California.

NetSoc, LLC v. Quora, Inc., No. 18-cv-12250 (RA) (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 2, 2019)