Dipnarain et al v. Davenport Aviation, Inc. et al

Filing 24

ORDER granting 16 Davenport Aviation and Joao Simoes' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Venue; denying 23 Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions. Signed by Judge M. James Lorenz on 9/29/2017. (sjt)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 SKYLINE AVIATION CONSULTING, LLC, et al., 15 ORDER GRANTING MOTION [Doc. 16] TO DISMISS Plaintiffs, 13 14 Case No.: 3:17-cv-00662-L-KSC v. AIR PEACE, LIMITED, et al. Defendants. 16 17 Pending before the Court is Defendants Davenport Aviation and Joao Simoes’ 18 19 (“Defendants”) motion to dismiss for lack of venue. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 20 7.1(d)(1), the Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral 21 argument. For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ motion. 22 // 23 // 24 // 25 // 26 // 27 // 28 // 1 3:17-cv-00662-L-KSC 1 This dispute arises out of an alleged breach of contract by Defendants. Plaintiffs 2 Skyline Aviation Consulting, LLC, and Skyline’s owner Premchand Dipnarain 3 (“Plaintiffs”) are in the business of providing technical consulting services to air carriers. 4 Defendant Davenport Aviation (“Davenport”) is in the business of managing information 5 processing and control systems for the aviation industry. Plaintiffs and Davenport 6 entered into a contract pursuant to which Davenport would provide certain technical 7 services to Plaintiffs in exchange for money. Of relevance to the present motion, the 8 contract contained a choice of law and forum selection clause that states: 9 This Agreement will be governed and interpreted by the internal laws of the State of Ohio without reference to the conflict of laws rules. Further, the parties consent to the jurisdiction and venue of the State and Federal Courts located in Franklin County Ohio. (Contract [Doc. 1-3] § G.) Notwithstanding, Plaintiffs filed the present action, alleging 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 breach of contract and claims derivative of the alleged breach of contract, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. Defendants now move to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) for lack of venue. Forum selection clauses are presumed valid. M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 10 (1972). A court can set aside a forum selection clause only if the challenging party shows enforcement would be unreasonable. Id. A forum selection clause is unreasonable if (1) its incorporation into the contract was the result of fraud, undue influence, or overweening bargaining power, (2) the selected forum is so gravely difficult and inconvenient that the complaining party will for all practical purposes be deprived of its day in court, or (3) enforcement of the clause would contravene a strong public policy of the forum in which the suit is brought. Argueta v. Banco Mexicano, S.A., 87 F.3d 320, 325 (9th Cir. 1996). Plaintiffs have not submitted any evidence in support of their opposition to the 26 forum selection clause. Rather, they simply assert that the forum selection clause is 27 unreasonable because (1) its inclusion is the product of overweening bargaining power 28 and (2) it would be more convenient to litigate this case in San Diego because all 2 3:17-cv-00662-L-KSC 1 witnesses live around the San Diego area. Plaintiffs’ first argument consists only of a 2 statement that Defendants lawyer drafted the contract. From the fact that Defendants’ 3 attorney drafted the forum selection clause, it simply does not follow that Defendants 4 used overweening bargaining power to force Plaintiffs to agree to the forum selection 5 clause. 6 Plaintiffs’ second argument is unpersuasive because it misconstrues the law. It is 7 not enough that litigation in the Southern District would be more convenient than 8 litigation in the agreed upon forum. Rather, geographic concerns will only render a 9 forum selection clause invalid if enforcement would, as a practical matter, create such 10 grave difficulty as to deny Plaintiffs their day in Court. Argueta, 87 F.3d at 325. 11 Plaintiffs make no argument that enforcement of the Forum Selection Clause would have 12 the practical effect of completely denying them their day in Court. 13 For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 14 12(b)(3) motion to dismiss. Though the Court finds Plaintiffs’ legal arguments to be 15 lacking in merit, they are not so baseless or frivolous to warrant sanctions under Fed. R. 16 Civ. P. 11(b). Accordingly, the Court DENIES Defendants’ motion [Doc. 23] for Rule 17 11 sanctions. 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. 19 Dated: September 29, 2017 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 3:17-cv-00662-L-KSC

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