M&M Creative Laminates, Inc. vs. Cambria Company LLC
MEMORANDUM ORDER indicating that, for reasons more fully stated within said Order, the Defendant's Motion to Transfer 9 is granted, in part, and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), this matter shall be transferred, forthwith, to the U.S. Di strict Court for the District of Minnesota and marked as related to the pending case between the same parties at Civ. A. No. 17-2463; that Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction 3 is denied; and that the Clerk of Court shall mark this case closed. Signed by Judge Nora Barry Fischer on 7/31/17. (jg) [Transferred from Pennsylvania Western on 8/1/2017.]
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
M&M CREATIVE LAMINATES, INC.,
CAMBRIA COMPANY, LLC,
Civil Action No. 17-871
Judge Nora Barry Fischer
This matter is before the Court on competing motions, with Plaintiff M&M Creative
Laminates, Inc. seeking a preliminary injunction enjoining a lawsuit filed against it by Defendant
Cambria Company, LLC, (Docket No. 3), which is now pending in the U.S. District Court for the
District of Minnesota at Civ. A. No. 17-2463 and Defendant Cambria Company, LLC’s motion
seeking a transfer of this matter to the District Court in Le Sueur County, Minnesota, (Docket No.
9).1 After careful consideration of the parties’ motions and the related briefing thereon, (Docket Nos.
4, 10, 12, 13), and consistent with this Court’s recent decisions in Caballero v. Healthcare
Resources, Inc., Civ. A. No. 17-228, 2017 WL 2909693 (W.D. Pa. Jul. 7, 2017), and Cypress Ins.
Co. v. Mickens Transportation Specialists, et al., Civ. A. No. 17-246, 2017 WL 1541892 (W.D. Pa.
Apr. 28, 2017), and the authority cited therein, this Court will exercise its broad discretion pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) and transfer this matter to the U.S. District Court for the District of
Minnesota where related litigation between these parties is pending. See e.g., Ogundoju v. Attorney
The Court notes that Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on July 28, 2017, (Docket No. 14), and the Court
thereafter terminated the related motion to dismiss filed by Defendant. (Docket No. 15).
General of U.S., 390 F. App’x 134, 137 n.2 (3d Cir. 2010) (district court has discretion to transfer
matter under 1404(a)); 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) (district court should transfer matter if it is
governed by valid forum selection clause); Chavez v. Dole Food Co., Inc., 836 F.3d 205, 220 (3d
Cir. 2016) (district court has discretion to transfer case under first filed rule).
In so holding, the Court notes that Plaintiff invokes the “first-filed” rule in an effort to
maintain precedence of its lawsuit filed in this Court which it admits involves “similar, if not
identical, questions of fact and law,” to the Minnesota lawsuit. (Docket No. 4 at 6). But, “[t]he
presence of a valid forum selection clause may serve as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ that would
justify a departure from the first-filed rule.” Samuel T. Freeman & Co. v. Hiam, Civ. A. No. 121387, 2012 WL 2120474, at *7 (E.D. Pa. June 11, 2012). Here, the Court finds that the parties’
forum selection clause wherein they agreed that any “claims or disputes relating to the agreements
and transactions between the parties shall be in the District Court of Le Sueur County, State of
Minnesota,” is valid and overrules Plaintiff’s position that the agreement is an adhesion contract or
that the enforcement of same would violate public policy. See e.g., Todd Heller, Inc. v. United
Parcel Service, Inc., 754 A. 2d 689 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2000) (“merely because a contract is a contract of
adhesion does not automatically render it unconscionable and unenforceable. … Under [an adhesion]
contract, the parties are usually not of equal bargaining power and the weaker party must adhere to
the terms of a form contract which are not negotiable. In other words, its terms are not bargained for
but rather dictated.”) (internal quotation omitted). To the contrary, the credit agreement was one of
several documents executed in May of 2009 between two businesses with a supplier-distributor
relationship pursuant to which M&M accepted materials from Cambria for the next eight years, on
credit, in what M&M describes as a mutually beneficial relationship with it selling over
$1,000,000.00 of Cambria’s products during 2016 alone, realizing profits of over $400,000.00 from
those sales. (See Docket No. 1-1 at ¶ 2; 14 at ¶ 83). Insofar as M&M disagreed with the forum
selection clause, it had more than an ample opportunity to renegotiate same during the course of its
extensive business dealings with Cambria over the past eight years. Hence, the Court does not
believe there are any “extraordinary circumstances” which would justify setting aside the otherwise
valid forum selection clause in this instance. See Caballero, 2017 WL 2909693, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Jul.
7, 2017) (citing Zanghi v. FreightCar Am., Inc., 38 F. Supp. 3d 631, 641 (W.D. Pa. 2014)). In fact,
there is nothing unreasonable about requiring Plaintiff to litigate its case in a jurisdiction where it has
consistently done business for the past 8 years and where it has expressly agreed to litigate issues
arising out of this business relationship. See id. Given same, the Court concludes that there is no
basis to enjoin to the Minnesota litigation and will deny Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary
With respect to the requested transfer to Minnesota, a district court considering a motion to
transfer under § 1404(a) is typically required to balance both private and public interests to determine
whether a transfer would be in the interests of justice and convenient for the parties and their
witnesses. See Atl. Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 581; Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879–80
(3d Cir. 1995) (enumerating public and private interests). But, the “enforcement of valid forumselection clauses, bargained for by the parties, protects their legitimate expectations and furthers vital
interests of the justice system,” and therefore, Plaintiff’s selected forum of the Court of Common
Pleas of Allegheny County, (or this federal forum, to which the action was removed by Defendant),
is given “no weight.” Atl. Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 581. In these situations, this Court has been
instructed to not consider the “private” Jumara factors and to focus only on those “public” interest
factors which militate against enforcement. Id. Here, Plaintiff has not claimed that any of the public
factors support the requested injunction and did not respond to the transfer motion, aside from filing
its Amended Complaint.
(Docket Nos. 4; 14). Despite Plaintiff’s failure to advance these
arguments, the Court has considered each of the public factors sua sponte but does not believe that
any of them support overturning their agreed upon venue, including, “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.” Atl.
Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 582. To this end, it appears that both this District and the District of Minnesota
have judicial vacancies and significant caseloads; this was an interstate business relationship and not
a localized controversy; and the parties agreed that Minnesota law would apply to their disputes. On
the last point, both courts are competent to interpret Minnesota law but the District of Minnesota is
naturally more familiar with same. All told, the Court concludes that there is no basis to upset the
parties’ forum selection clause and will enforce their agreement to the extent that they stipulated to a
venue in Minnesota.
As a final point, this Court lacks the authority to transfer a case to the state court in
Minnesota as Defendant suggests and generally would dismiss, rather than transfer, a case if the
parties expressly agreed upon a state forum. See Caballero, 2017 WL 2909693, at *2 (citing
Salovaara v. Jackson Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 246 F.3d 289, 298 (3d Cir. 2001)). However, based on the
status of the federal court litigation in Minnesota, it appears that the parties dispute the scope of the
language of the forum selection clause and whether the litigation should proceed in the federal
forum, where it was removed by M&M, or if the case should be remanded to state court in
Minnesota, as Cambria has argued. See generally Civ. A. No. 17-2463 (D. Mn. 2017). The Court
believes that it is in the interests of judicial economy for the transferee court in Minnesota to make a
single ruling on this disputed issue. See Cypress Ins., 2017 WL 1541892, at *3 (“it is this Court's
opinion that it is in the interests of judicial economy for this litigation to proceed before a single
District Judge in the appropriate forum.”). In this regard, the District Court in Minnesota is not
bound by any rulings by this Court and separate decisions on the same matter by different federal
district courts could potentially result in conflicting rulings, each separately appealable to different
Circuit courts. See Samuel T. Foreman, 2012 WL 2120474, at *4 (“it is of obvious importance to all
the litigants to have a single determination of their controversy, rather than several decisions which if
they conflict may require separate appeals to different circuit courts of appeals.”) (quotation
omitted). Indeed, Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure strongly counsels this Court to
avoid such a situation. See FED. R. CIV. P. 1 (these Rules “should be construed, administered, and
employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of
every action and proceeding.”). Accordingly, the Court will transfer this matter to the District of
For these reasons,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Transfer  is GRANTED, IN
PART, and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), this matter shall be transferred, forthwith, to the U.S.
District Court for the District of Minnesota and marked as related to the pending case between the
same parties at Civ. A. No. 17-2463.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction  is
FINALLY, IT IS ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall mark this case CLOSED.
s/Nora Barry Fischer
Nora Barry Fischer
United States District Judge
Date: July 31, 2017
cc/ecf: All counsel of record
Clerk of Court, U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?