Adelman's Truck Parts Corporation v. Jones Transport et al
Order denying Defendants' Motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. (Related Doc # 4 ); denying 5 Plaintiff's Motion to Remand to State Court (Related Doc # 5 ); denying as moot 6 Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply ; and denying as moot Plaintiff's Motion for leave to file a sur-reply (Related Doc # 15 ). Judge John R. Adams on 3/13/18.(L,J)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Adelman’s Truck Parts Corp.,
Jones Transport, et al.,
CASE NO.: 5:17CV2598
JUDGE JOHN ADAMS
ORDER AND DECISION
This matter comes before the Court on Motion by Defendants Jones Transport and
Don Jones (collectively “Jones”) to dismiss this matter for lack of jurisdiction.
addition, Plaintiff Adelman’s Truck Parts Corp. (“Adelman’s) has moved to remand this
matter to the Stark County Court of Common Pleas. The Court has been advised, having
reviewed the motions, responses, replies, pleadings, exhibits, and applicable law. For the
reasons stated below, Jones’ motion is DENIED. Adelman’s motion is also DENIED.
This matter arises out of Jones’ October 11, 2017 purchase of a used diesel engine
The parties present substantially different views on the facts
surrounding the purchase. However, there is no dispute that the parties’ contract contains
the following provision:
GOVERNING LAW: This Purchase Order shall be governed by and
construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Ohio. Seller and/or
Buyer shall bring and/or initiate any claims, disputes and/or other legal
proceedings respecting this Purchase Order and/or Goods in the Stark
County, Ohio Common Pleas Court, which court shall have sole and
exclusive venue and jurisdiction over any such claims, disputes and/or
other legal proceedings.
Doc. 1-1 at 10. A review of the above provision resolves Jones’ motion to dismiss.
“Because the requirement of personal jurisdiction represents first of all an
individual right, it can, like other such rights, be waived.” Ins. Corp. of Ir., Ltd. v.
Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 703 (1982). “[T]here are a variety of
legal arrangements whereby litigants may consent to the personal jurisdiction of a
particular court system. The use of a forum selection clause is one way in which
contracting parties may agree in advance to submit to the jurisdiction of a particular
court.” Preferred Capital, Inc. v. Assocs. in Urology, 453 F.3d 718, 721 (6th Cir. 2006)
(quotation marks and citations omitted); see Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S.
462, 472 n. 14 (1985) (personal jurisdiction requirement may be waived through forum
selection clause in contract); Kennecorp Mortg. Brokers, Inc. v. Country Club
Convalescent Hosp., Inc., 66 Ohio St.3d 173 (1993).
“Federal courts hold that forum selection clauses that have been freely bargained
for are prima facie valid and enforceable.” Diebold, Inc. v. Firstcard Fin. Servs., Inc.,
104 F.Supp.2d 758, 763 (N.D.Ohio 2000) (citation omitted). As such, “[a] forum
selection clause should be upheld absent a strong showing that it should be set aside.”
Wong v. PartyGaming Ltd., 589 F.3d 821, 828 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). In
Wong, the Sixth Circuit identified the following factors to be considered in evaluating the
enforceability of a forum selection clause:
whether the clause was obtained by fraud, duress, or other unconscionable
means; whether the designated forum would ineffectively or unfairly
handle the suit; and whether the designated forum would be so seriously
inconvenient such that requiring the plaintiff to bring suit there would be
Id. (numerals and citations omitted).
Herein, there are no allegations nor any suggestion that the forum selection clause
was obtained by fraud or duress. Second, there is nothing in the record to suggest that the
Stark County Court of Common Pleas could not handle the matter in a fair and effective
manner. With respect to the final factor, Jones appears to contend that his poor financial
situation makes it seriously inconvenient for him to litigate in Ohio. However, “[m]ere
distance, mere expense, or mere hardship to an individual litigant is insufficient to
invalidate a forum selection clause.” Veteran Payment Sys., LLC v. Gossage, No.
5:14CV981, 2015 WL 545764, at *6 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 10, 2015) (citations and quotation
omitted). As such, the Court finds no basis to decline to enforce the forum selection
Jones, however, contends that “the boilerplate terms-and-conditions signed by Mr.
Jones do not include a promise to submit to the jurisdiction of Ohio courts.” Doc. 4-1 at
Contrary to that position, Jones agreed that both venue and jurisdiction were
appropriate in Ohio over any claim he made and over any claim made by the seller,
Adelman’s. As such, he cannot contend that he did not assent to jurisdiction in Ohio.
Therefore, Jones’ motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is DENIED.
Adelman’s motion to remand is also DENIED.
In its motion, Adelman’s
contends that the complaint does not satisfy the amount in controversy. To reach that
conclusion, Adelman’s contends that the contract was for a used engine that was priced at
$5,304. Based upon that fact, Adelman’s contends that the amount in controversy cannot
approach the number necessary for federal jurisdiction.
When a plaintiff seeks equitable or declaratory relief, “we measure the amount in
controversy by ‘the value of the object of the litigation.’” Northup Props., Inc. v.
Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, 567 F.3d 767, 770 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Hunt v.
Washington State Apple Adver. Comm’n, 432 U.S. 333, 347 (1977)). “Applying this
principle, [the Sixth Circuit] has said that, ‘[w]here a party seeks a declaratory judgment,
“the amount in controversy is not necessarily the money judgment sought or recovered,
but rather the value of the consequences which may result from the litigation.”’ Freeland
v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 632 F.3d 250, 253 (6th Cir.2011) (citations omitted)
(holding that where the matter in controversy fails to exceed $75,000—even by a
penny—the case must be remanded for want of subject matter jurisdiction). The burden is
on the removing party “to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the allegations in
the complaint at the time of removal satisfy the amount-in-controversy requirement.”
Northup Props., 567 F.3d at 769–70 (citing Hayes v. Equitable Energy Res. Co., 266 F.3d
560, 572 (6th Cir. 2001)). The amount in controversy should be considered “from the
perspective of the plaintiff, with a focus on the economic value of the rights he seeks to
protect.” Smith v. Nationwide Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 505 F.3d 401, 407 (6th Cir. 2007).
Herein, it cannot be disputed that there is a value in the declaratory judgment
sought by Adelman’s. Within the complaint, Adelman’s seeks a judgment that the terms
of the complaint are enforceable as written. In so doing, Adelman’s seeks to limit the
categories of damages and claims available to Jones. As such, the proper measure of the
value of the declaratory judgment is the value of the rights that Adelman’s seek to
protect. Given Jones’ pre-suit demand and detailed explanation of his alleged damages, it
is clear in this record that the value to Adelman’s in enforcing the provisions of the
contract is well in excess of $100,000. Accordingly, the matter was properly removed to
this Court. The motion to remand is DENIED.
The motion to dismiss is DENIED. The motion to remand is DENIED. The
additional two motions seeking discovery on the issue of jurisdiction and to file a surreply on the same issue are DENIED AS MOOT.
Dated: March 13, 2018
____/s/ John R. Adams_______
JUDGE JOHN R. ADAMS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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