Vita Planning & Landscape Architecture, Inc. v. HKS Architects, Inc.Annotate this Case
HKS a Texas architecture firm, provided services for a luxury hotel in Mammoth Lakes under an Agreement that contained a Texas forum selection clause, requiring mediation, and a Texas choice of law provision.The Agreement authorized HKS to hire “[c]onsultants.” Vita, a California landscape design firm, submitted to HKS a Contract incorporating the terms of the Agreement. Neither Vita or HKS signed the Contract, but Vita performed work in 2008, during the “design phase” and sent invoices to HKS. Owner began having financial problems before construction commenced, leaving HKS with unpaid bills for its own services and those provided by “consultants.” HKS obtained a judgment against Owner in 2010 in Texas for $1,617,073.70 but was unable to recover anything. In 2013, Vita sued HKS, alleging breach of contract; unjust enrichment; quantum meruit; and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, seeking $370,650.53. After answering the complaint, HKS moved to enforce the forum selection clause and dismiss. The court of appeal reversed dismissal. HKS established the existence of a contract between HKS and Vita containing a forum selection clause, but Code of Civil Procedure 410.42 prohibits enforcement of construction contract provisions requiring disputes between contractors and California subcontractors to be litigated outside California.