Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Richmond v. 20/20 Communications, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 24, 2016

JAMES RICHMOND, Plaintiff,
v.
20/20 COMMUNICATIONS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN W. DARRAH, United States District Court Judge.

         Plaintiff James Richmond filed a Nationwide Collective Action Complaint against Defendant 20/20 Communications, Inc., alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. Defendant filed a Motion for Transfer of Venue [46] based on a forum-selection clause in Plaintiff's employment agreement. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion [46] is granted.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a resident of Illinois and was a “Field Sales Manager” employed by Defendant. Defendant is a foreign corporation that is primarily engaged in the business of providing outsourced sales/marketing, merchandising, and training services to corporate clients. Plaintiff, and other members of the proposed class, was assigned to Defendant's account for Samsung and was paid a salary. Plaintiff alleges that he was required to work in excess of forty hours a week without receiving overtime compensation. Plaintiff and Defendant entered into an employment agreement titled, “Agreements” (the “Employment Agreement”). The Employment Agreement also incorporates a Mutual Arbitration Agreement by reference.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A forum-selection clause “may be enforced through a motion to transfer under § 1404(a).” Atl. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for W. Dist. of Texas, 134 S.Ct. 568, 579 (2013). When a defendant files a motion to transfer pursuant to a mandatory forum-selection clause, “a district court should transfer the case unless extraordinary circumstances unrelated to the convenience of the parties clearly disfavor a transfer.” Id. at 575. The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that a transfer is unwarranted. Id. at 581. When evaluating a motion to transfer pursuant to a forum-selection clause: (1) the plaintiff's choice of forum is given no weight; (2) private-interest factors are given no weight, as the court may only consider public-interest factors; and (3) a § 1404(a) transfer based on a forum-selection clause does not carry with it the original venue's choice-of-law rules. Atl. Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 581-83.

         ANALYSIS

         The Employment Agreement contained a mandatory forum-selection clause, which requires this action to be transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Plaintiff's Employment Agreement contained the following:

Any litigation or proceeding that may be brought by either party involving the enforcement of these Agreements or the rights, duties, or obligations of any party to these Agreements shall be brought exclusively in Tarrant County in the state of Texas. Employee hereby consents to jurisdiction and venue in Tarrant County, Texas as consideration for these Agreements.

(Dkt. 47-1, p. 12.) Defendant argues the clause should be enforced. Mandatory forum-selection clauses are valid and enforceable under both Illinois and federal law. Muzumdar v. Wellness Int'l Network, Ltd., 438 F.3d 759, 761 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing IFC Credit Corp. v. Aliano Bros. Gen. Contractors, Inc., 437 F.3d 606 (7th Cir. 2006)). Forum-selection clauses are valid unless it can be clearly shown “that enforcement would be unreasonable and unjust, or that the clause was invalid for such reasons as fraud or overreaching.” Id. at 762 (quoting The Breman v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 15 (1972)).

         Plaintiff first argues that the forum-selection clause does not apply to his FLSA claims because the forum-selection clause only applies to the Agreements. This is not persuasive. The employee contract clearly states that the forum-selection clause covers “[a]ny litigation or proceeding that may be brought by either party involving the enforcement of these Agreements or the rights, duties or obligations of any party to these Agreements.” (Dkt. 47-1, p. 12) (emphasis added). Plaintiff is alleging that Defendant had a duty to pay overtime wages, and it is not disputed that both are parties to the agreement. Plaintiff's argument that the only pertinent venue provision is the one in the Mutual Arbitration Agreement is similarly misplaced. If that were the case, then the Mutual Arbitration Agreement also requires Plaintiff to arbitrate instead of filing the present lawsuit. Further, the Mutual Arbitration Agreement's integration clause states that the Mutual Arbitration Agreement “is the complete agreement between the parties on the subject of arbitration and supersedes any other understanding on the subject.” (Dkt. 55-2, ¶ 9) (emphasis added). The Mutual Arbitration Agreement is not the complete agreement between the parties on the subject of litigation.

         Plaintiff then argues that transfer is inappropriate under 42 U.S.C. § 1404(a) and argues that Defendant has not shown that compelling circumstances exist to justify transfer. However, Defendant seeks transfer pursuant to a forum-selection agreement, which requires Plaintiff to show that extraordinary circumstances unrelated to the convenience of the parties establish that transfer is unwarranted. See Atl. Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 575, 581. Plaintiff contends that transfer is unwarranted because enforcement of the forum-selection clause would be unjust. The Employment Agreement incorporates the Mutual Arbitration Agreement, which states:

Except as provided below, Employee and Employer, on behalf of their affiliates, successors, heirs, and assigns, both agree that all disputes and claims between them, including those relating to Employee's employment with Employer and any separation therefrom, and including claims by Employee against Employer's subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, employees, or agents, shall be determined exclusively by final and binding arbitration before a single, neutral arbitrator as described herein, and that judgment upon the arbitrator's award may be entered in any court of competent jurisdiction. Claims subject to arbitration under this Agreement include without limitation claims for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation; wages, overtime, benefits, or other compensation; breach of any express or implied contract; violation of public policy; personal injury; and tort claims including defamation, fraud, and emotional distress. Except as expressly provided herein, Employer and Employee voluntarily waive all rights to trial in court before a judge or jury on all claims between them.

(Dkt. 55-2, ¶ 1) (emphasis added). Plaintiff's arbitration would be held in the Northern District of Illinois, as the Mutual Arbitration Agreement states that arbitration “will be held in or near the city in which Employee is or was last employed by Employer.” ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.