City of Benkelman, NE v. Baseline Engineering Corp., No. 16-1949 (8th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The City filed suit against Baseline, alleging contract, negligence and professional malpractice, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. The City's claims stemmed from a contract with Baseline, in which Baseline would assist with the permitting, design, and construction of a water treatment plant for the City. The Eighth Circuit held that, to the extent an arbitration provision was like a forum-selection clause, the motion seeking to compel arbitration was not properly construed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3); just as a forum selection clause has no bearing on the issue of whether venue was wrong or improper, an arbitration agreement has no relevance to the question of whether a given case satisfied constitutional or statutory definitions of jurisdiction; contrary to Baseline's contention, the July 2009 Contract's arbitration clause did not strip the federal courts of jurisdiction; and therefore the district court erred in construing the motion as a Rule 12(b)(1) challenge to subject matter jurisdiction. The court agreed with the City that Baseline's motion was properly analyzed under either Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 56. Under both rules, the summary judgment standard applied. The court reversed and remanded for summary judgment proceedings in the district court.