United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
JESSICA CABALLERO, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiff,
HEALTHCARE RESOURCES, PNC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Barry Fischer United States District Judge.
consideration of the Second Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 26)
filed by Healthcare Resources, Inc., ("Defendant"),
the Response (Docket No. 30) by Jessica Caballero
("Plaintiff), and Defendant's Reply (Docket No. 31)
thereto, as well as the discretion afforded the Court under
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), the Court shall transfer the
instant matter to the United States District Court for the
District of Arizona.
before the Court is the Second Motion to Dismiss filed May
11, 2017. (Docket No. 26). Defendant seeks dismissal of all
claims alleged at Counts I and II of Plaintiffs Amended
Complaint. (Docket No. 22). The Amended Complaint alleges
that Defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29
U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. ("FLSA"),
and Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, 43 Pa. Stat. §§
333.101, et seq. ("PMWA"), due to the
failure to properly compensate Plaintiff for work in excess
of forty (40) hours per week.
addition to arguing that Plaintiff has failed to state a
claim under either the FLSA or PMWA, Defendant contends that
the choice of law provision in Plaintiffs employment
agreement dictates that any dispute arising from the
parties' employment relationship shall be "governed
by Arizona law." (Docket No. 26-1 at 4). In response,
Plaintiff asserts that she has pled sufficient factual matter
to state valid claims under the FLSA and PMWA, and that the
choice of law provision in the employment agreement should
not be given effect. Both parties neglect to address a
corresponding forum selection clause contained in the
employment agreement to any significant degree, although
Plaintiff notes explicitly her lack of opposition to transfer
sua sponte to the United States District Court for
the District of Arizona. (Docket No. 30 at 7, n. 2). In the
Court's estimation, and in light of Plaintiff s consent,
this clause warrants transfer of the instant case sua
sponte to another venue.
respect to a transfer, as the United States Supreme Court
recently explained, "[t]he presence of a valid
forum-selection clause requires district courts to adjust
their usual § 1404(a) analysis..." Zanghi v.
FreightCar Am., Inc., 38 F.Supp.3d 631, 641 (W.D. Pa.
2014) (quoting Atl. Marine Const. Co., Inc. v. U.S. Dist.
Court for W. Dist. of Texas, ___U.S.___, 134
S.Ct. 568, 581, 187 L.Ed.2d 487 (2013)). Forum selection
clauses are "'prima facie valid and should be
enforced.'" Silvis v. Ambit Energy, L.P.,
90 F.Supp.3d 393, 397 (E.D. Pa. 2015) (quoting Foster v.
Chesapeake Ins. Co., Ltd., 933 F.2d 1207, 1219 (3d Cir.
1991); M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S.
1, 10 (1972)). Such clauses '"should be given
controlling weight in all but the most exceptional
case.'" MoneyGram Payment Sys., Inc. v.
Consorcio Oriental, S.A., 65 F.App'x 844, 847 - 88
(3d Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).
if a party wishes to avoid enforcement, it must make a strong
showing that: (1) the clause was the result of fraud or
overreaching; (2) enforcement of the clause would violate
strong public policy of the forum; or (3) the forum selected
is unreasonable. QVC, Inc. v. Your Vitamins, Inc.,
753 F.Supp.2d 428, 432 (D. Del. 2010) (citing Coastal
Steel Corp. v. Tilghman Wheelabrator Ltd., 709 F.2d 190,
202 (3d Cir. 1983)). A forum is unreasonable for a party when
'"resolution in the selected forum will be so
manifestly and gravely inconvenient to it that it will be
effectively deprived of a meaningful day in court.'"
MoneyGram, 65 F.App'x at 848 (quoting
Bremen, 407 U.S. at 19). "Only under
extraordinary circumstances" should a district court not
enforce a valid forum selection clause. Zanghi, 38
F.Supp.3d at 641.
the forum selection clause states that "[a]ny dispute
between you and HealthTECH shall be resolved by a court of
competent jurisdiction in Maricopa County, Arizona."
(Docket No. 26-1 at 4). Neither party attacks the validity or
applicability of this provision, or contends that it was not
freely entered into. Indeed, Plaintiffs initials appear
immediately below the quoted provision in the employment
agreement (id), and as previously noted,
Plaintiff consents to a transfer sua sponte in
accordance with the clause. The inquiry does not end there,
a district court considering a motion under § 1404(a)
would balance public and private interests to determine
whether a transfer would be in the interests of justice and
convenient for the parties and their witnesses. Atl.
Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 581. See Jumara v. State Farm
Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 - 80 (3d Cir. 1995)
(enumerating public and private interests). In the case of a
valid forum selection clause, courts need only consider
public interest factors which militate against
enforcement . Id. at 582. Factors to consider
include "the administrative difficulties flowing from
court congestion; the local interest in having localized
controversies decided at home; and the interest in having the
trial of a diversity case in a forum that is at home with the
law." Id. at 581 n. 6 (citation omitted). These
factors are rarely sufficient, alone, and forum selection
clauses generally control. Id. at 582. Presently,
the Court finds no strong countervailing public interest
which would counsel against enforcement of the uncontested
forum selection clause. The clause is, therefore, binding
upon Plaintiff and Defendant.
Court observes that the forum selection provision does not
specify a particular forum, instead referencing "a court
of competent jurisdiction in Maricopa County, Arizona."
(Docket No. 26-1 at 4). Transfer of a case is generally not
possible when the clause does not include a federal court as
a potential venue. Salovaara v. Jackson Nat'l Life
Ins. Co., 246 F.3d 289, 298 (3d Cir. 2001). Yet, because
the provision at issue expresses that "a court of
competent jurisdiction in Maricopa County, Arizona, " is
acceptable, it would appear that transfer to the United
States District Court for the District of Arizona is
appropriate; the Court takes judicial notice that it is
located in said County and exercises its jurisdiction within
said county. See Jumara, 55 F.3d at 881 ("[W]e
hold that the phrase 'a court of record in the
county' includes the United States District
Court."). Cf. W.G. Nichols, Inc. v. CSK Auto,
Inc., 2001 WL 1486516, at *5 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 21, 2001)
("Plaintiff contends that the parties' forum
selection clause encompasses the United States District Court
for the District of Arizona whose jurisdiction includes
Maricopa County. The clause contains no reference to the
federal courts. It does not specify courts 'in'
Maricopa County. It specifies courts 'of Maricopa County.
This suggests literally the Maricopa County courts and not
any court which sits 'in' the County or whose
jurisdiction includes the County.").
and Defendant formed a contract containing a forum selection
clause, which clause stated that all disputes between the
parties relative to their employer-employee relationship be
resolved in "a court of competent jurisdiction in
Maricopa County, Arizona." In light of Plaintiff s
consent to enforcement of the forum selection clause sua
sponte, as well as the general lack of any
countervailing public interest, and having found this clause
to be otherwise valid, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), the instant case be transferred,
forthwith, to the United States District Court for the
District of Arizona's Phoenix, Arizona, courthouse for
FURTHER ORDERED that the clerk shall ...