Ryze Claims Solutions, LLC v. Magnus-Stinson, No. 19-2930 (7th Cir. 2020)

Annotate this Case
Justia Opinion Summary

RYZE, an Indiana business, employs remote workers across the U.S., including Billings, who signed an employment agreement with a forum‐selection clause providing for litigation in an Indiana state court or in the Southern District of Indiana. Billings filed suit in California state court. alleging state law claims and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, on behalf of himself and other current and former RYZE employees nationwide.

RYZE removed the action to the Eastern District of California, which concluded that Billings had failed to show why the forum‐selection clause should not control and transferred venue under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) to the Southern District of Indiana. That court granted RYZE summary judgment on Billings’s federal claims. The district court then, sua sponte, returned the case to the Eastern District of California, explaining that its docket was congested and that the California court was familiar with California labor law. When the case was docketed again in the Eastern District of California, RYZE petitioned the Seventh Circuit for a writ of mandamus directing the Southern District of Indiana to request that the Eastern District of California return the action to the Southern District of Indiana. The Seventh Circuit granted that petition, noting that forum‐selection clauses should be given “‘controlling weight in all but the most exceptional cases.’” No exceptional circumstances exist here.

Download PDF
In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit ____________________ No. 19 2930 IN RE: RYZE CLAIMS SOLUTIONS, LLC, Petitioner. ____________________ Petition for Writ of Mandamus from the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 1:18 cv 01767 JMS MJD — Jane Magnus Stinson, Chief Judge. ____________________ ARGUED APRIL 8, 2020 — DECIDED AUGUST 3, 2020 ____________________ Before RIPPLE, BRENNAN, and SCUDDER, Circuit Judges. RIPPLE, Circuit Judge. Leslie Billings is a party to an em ployment agreement with his former employer, RYZE Claim Solutions, LLC (“RYZE”). The employment agreement con tains a forum selection clause providing that Mr. Billings must bring claims against RYZE in an Indiana court, either in Marion County or Hamilton County, or in a federal court in the Southern District of Indiana. Mr. Billings nevertheless filed this action in a California state court. RYZE removed 2 No. 19 2930 the action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. Relying on Atlantic Marine Construction Co., Inc. v. United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, 571 U.S. 49, 62–63 (2013), the Eastern District of Cal ifornia concluded that Mr. Billings had failed to show why the forum selection clause should not control and granted RYZE’s motion to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the Southern District of Indiana. In due course, the district court in Indiana granted RYZE’s motion for summary judgment on Mr. Billings’s fed eral claims. The district court then transferred, sua sponte, the case back to the Eastern District of California. It ex plained that its own docket was congested and that the East ern District of California had a greater familiarity with Cali fornia labor law. When the case was docketed once again in the Eastern District of California, RYZE petitioned this court for a writ of mandamus directing the Southern District of Indiana to request that the Eastern District of California 1 transfer the action back to the Southern District of Indiana. We must give forum selection clauses “‘controlling weight in all but the most exceptional cases.’” Atl. Marine, 571 U.S. at 63 (quoting Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 33 (1988) (Kennedy, J., concurring)). Because no such exceptional circumstances exist here, the district court de 1 The district court in the Southern District of Indiana had jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367. Our jurisdiction is secure under 28 U.S.C. § 1651. See In re Mathias, 867 F.3d 727, 729 (7th Cir. 2017) (“[M]andamus is the appropriate procedural method to obtain review of a district court’s decision on a § 1404(a) transfer motion.”). No. 19 2930 3 parted from the settled approach for applying the federal transfer statute in cases governed by a forum selection clause. Accordingly, we grant the petition and issue the writ of mandamus. I BACKGROUND A. RYZE is an Indiana business. It employs remote workers across the Nation. One of these workers, Mr. Billings, filed this action against RYZE and ten unnamed defendants in a California state court. As amended, the complaint stated a claim alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., on behalf of Mr. Billings and other current and former RYZE employees nationwide. He also alleged various violations of the California Labor Code and the California Business and Professions Code on behalf of a putative class of current and former RYZE em ployees who are or were employed within the state of Cali fornia. RYZE removed the action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. Then, relying on a forum selection clause in the employment agreement be tween RYZE and Mr. Billings, RYZE moved to transfer ven ue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the Southern District of Indi ana. Ruling that Mr. Billings had failed to show why the fo rum selection clause should not be “given controlling weight,” the district court in California granted RYZE’s 4 No. 19 2930 2 transfer motion. The case was transferred to the Southern District of Indiana. Once in the Southern District of Indiana, the parties en gaged in discovery and the district court resolved numerous discovery related disputes. The court also granted RYZE’s motion to add counterclaims against Mr. Billings, alleging 3 breach of the employment agreement, misappropriation of trade secrets in violation of the Indiana Uniform Trade Se crets Act, Ind. Code § 24 2 3 1 et seq., conversion in violation of Indiana Code § 34 24 3 1, and computer trespass in viola tion of Indiana Code § 35 43 2 3. The parties then filed mul tiple other motions, including Mr. Billings’s motion to certify the action as a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Pro cedure 23(b)(3) and as a collective action under the FLSA, 29 4 U.S.C. § 216(b), RYZE’s motion to strike an expert report submitted by Mr. Billings, and RYZE’s motion for summary judgment regarding Mr. Billings’s FLSA claims. 2 R.19 at 26 (quoting Atl. Marine Constr. Co., Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Ct. for W. Dist. of Tex., 571 U.S. 49, 63 (2013)). The court concluded that the relevant portion of the forum selection clause was valid and enforceable. See id. at 21, 25–26. 3 The employment agreement is governed by Indiana law. R.7 2 at 8 (Employment Agreement ¶ 8(b)). 4 Section 216(b) of Title 29 of the United States Code, “authorizes em ployees to act together to seek redress for violations of the statute’s min imum wage and maximum hour provisions.” Ervin v. OS Rest. Servs., Inc., 632 F.3d 971, 974 (7th Cir. 2011) (holding that “employees who insti tute a collective action against their employer under the terms of the FLSA may at the same time litigate supplemental state law claims as a class action certified according to FRCP 23(b)(3)”). No. 19 2930 5 The district court then granted RYZE’s motion for sum mary judgment on Mr. Billings’s FLSA claim and denied Mr. Billings’s class certification motion to the extent he sought conditional certification of an FLSA collective action. Two matters remained briefed and outstanding: RYZE’s mo tion to strike Mr. Billings’s expert report and Mr. Billings’s class certification motion under Federal Rule of Civil Proce dure 23. B. Two days after it granted RYZE’s motion for summary judgment on the FLSA claim, the Southern District of Indi ana sua sponte ordered the parties to show cause “why this matter should not be transferred to [the] U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California for further proceed ings.”5 The district court stated that “[t]he backdrop of this litigation has changed dramatically since the Eastern District of California evaluated the public interest factors and trans 5 R.101 at 4. It is well established that a district court has the authority to sua sponte transfer a case under 28 U.S.C. § 1404. “The language of the statute is broad enough that a district court can order transfer on its own initiative.” 15 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3844 (4th ed. 2019) (collecting cases); see also Germaine v. St. Germain, 435 Fed. App’x 530, 532 (7th Cir. May 19, 2011) (noting that the district court sua sponte ordered the case to be transferred); Carver v. Knox Cty., 887 F.2d 1287, 1291 (6th Cir. 1989) (“In fact, 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) does not require a motion; a district court may transfer a case sua spon te.”); Mills v. Beech Aircraft Corp., Inc., 886 F.2d 758, 761 (5th Cir. 1989) (“Such transfers may be made sua sponte.”); Muldoon v. Tropitone Furni ture Co., 1 F.3d 964, 965 (9th Cir. 1993) (stating that the district court properly transferred the case “[o]n its own motion”). 6 No. 19 2930 ferred this matter to this District.”6 It also emphasized its own docket congestion and noted that “the citizens of Cali fornia have a strong interest in adjudicating claims based 7 upon its labor laws.” The court ordered RYZE to respond to the order first. RYZE contended in its response to the order to show cause that “[t]here is nothing exceptional about this case that would warrant disregarding that forum selection agreement 8 now.” RYZE submitted that transferring the case back to the Eastern District of California, after the Southern District of Indiana had “already invested its own substantial time and effort in deciding a summary judgment motion, would not 9 serve the purposes of conserving judicial resources.” RYZE, contended that, despite the district court’s docket conges tion, “[t]he median time from filing to trial in civil cases [was] substantially shorter in the Southern District of Indi ana at 26.4 months compared to nearly a year longer in the 10 Eastern District of California at 36.8 months.” The Southern District of Indiana rejected RYZE’s view of the proper measure of court congestion. In the court’s view, an assessment of “court congestion” also takes into account “the extent to which this Court’s unprecedented caseload 6 R.101 at 3. 7 Id. at 4. 8 R.103 at 1. 9 Id. at 2. 10 Id. at 8. No. 19 2930 7 strain impacts the ability of court and clerk staff to fulfill 11 their duties.” Furthermore, the district court rejected the suggestion “that it might be able to more quickly resolve this matter than the Eastern District of California,” stating that its own “background familiarity” with the case was “far out stripped by the Eastern District of California’s familiarity 12 with California’s labor code.” The district court rejected RZYE’s remaining arguments and ordered the case to be transferred back to the Eastern District of California. On July 30, 2019, this action was docketed once again in the Eastern District of California. On October 3, 2019, the Eastern District of California ordered the parties to show cause why the action should not be remanded to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On the same day, RYZE sought a petition for writ of mandamus from this court. After Mr. Billings filed a response, we ordered the case to proceed to full briefing and oral argument. II DISCUSSION A. Section 1651 of Title 28 of the United States Code, which, among other things, codifies the common law writ of man damus, provides that “[t]he Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and 11 R.105 at 5. 12 Id. at 6. 8 No. 19 2930 agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” We have held that “mandamus is the appropriate procedural method to obtain review of a district court’s decision on a § 1404(a) transfer motion” because, “[w]ithout the availability of mandamus relief, the question of proper venue escapes meaningful appellate review.” In re Mathias, 867 F.3d 727, 729 (7th Cir. 2017); see also Hicks v. Duckworth, 856 F.2d 934, 935 (7th Cir. 1988) (holding that mandamus is appropriate “to correct an erroneous transfer out of circuit”). We will is sue a writ to reverse a transfer order if the order was a “‘vio lation of a clear and indisputable legal right, or, at the very least, is patently erroneous.’” In re Mathias, 867 F.3d at 739 (quoting In re Hudson, 710 F.3d 716, 719 (7th Cir. 2013)). We review a district court’s transfer decision for an abuse of dis cretion. Rsch. Automation, Inc. v. Schrader Bridgeport Int’l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 977 (7th Cir. 2010). “[W]here the court has con sidered all relevant public and private interest factors, and where its balancing of these factors is reasonable, its decision deserves substantial deference.” Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 257 (1981) (emphasis added); Rsch. Automation, 626 F.3d 976 (“Where a district court gives thoughtful con sideration to the factors applicable to a transfer analysis un der section 1404(a), we give its decision substantial defer ence.”). B. We begin with the language of the federal transfer statute that must guide a district court when considering a motion to transfer a case from one federal district to another. Section 1404(a) provides that “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may trans fer any civil action to any other district or division where it No. 19 2930 9 might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). When deciding whether to transfer a case under § 1404(a), a district court therefore “must evaluate both the convenience of the parties and various public interest considerations.” Atl. Ma rine, 571 U.S. at 62 & n.6. In determining whether the transfer would be in the “interest of justice,” a court may consider several factors, including “docket congestion and likely speed to trial in the transferor and potential transferee fo rums,” “each court’s relative familiarity with the relevant law,” “the respective desirability of resolving controversies in each locale,” and “the relationship of each community to the controversy.” Rsch. Automation, 626 F.3d at 978. When considering whether to transfer a case, a court must engage in a “‘flexible and individualized analysis’” and “look be yond a narrow or rigid set of considerations in their deter minations.” Id. (quoting Stewart, 487 U.S. at 29). These considerations, however, will “rarely” outweigh the parties’ private interests in enforcing a forum selection provision. Atl. Marine, 571 U.S. at 64. “The presence of a val id forum selection clause requires district courts to adjust their usual § 1404(a) analysis in three ways.” Id. Two of these 13 adjustments are relevant to this case. First, “the plaintiff’s choice of forum merits no weight.” Id. at 63. Instead, the plaintiff, in opposing the forum selection clause, “bears the burden of establishing that transfer to the forum for which 13 The third adjustment is that a change of venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) “will not carry with it the original venue’s choice of law rules—a factor that in some circumstances may affect public interest considerations.” Atl. Marine, 571 U.S. at 64. 10 No. 19 2930 the parties bargained is unwarranted.” Id. Moreover, a court “should not consider arguments about the parties’ private interests” because the parties, in contracting to a fo rum selection clause, “waive the right to challenge the prese lected forum as inconvenient or less convenient for them selves or their witnesses.” Id. at 64. Accordingly, the pri vate interest factors are deemed “to weigh entirely in favor of the preselected forum,” and a court “may consider argu ments about public interest factors only.” Id. When this analysis is properly applied, it “requires that a fo rum selection clause be ‘given controlling weight in all but the most exceptional cases.’” Id. at 59–60 (quoting Stewart, 487 U.S. at 33). Parties expect to litigate in their agreed to fo rum, and “courts should not unnecessarily disrupt the par ties’ settled expectations.” Id. at 66. C. Our examination of the record convinces us that the dis trict court employed a flawed methodology in deciding to send this case back to the Eastern District of California. First, it is evident that the district court improperly placed the burden on RYZE to justify keeping the case in Indiana. This improper allocation of the burden is evident in the district court’s ordering RYZE to respond first to the court’s order to show cause. As the party resisting the application of the fo rum selection clause, Mr. Billings, not RYZE, had the burden 14 of justifying a transfer contrary to the terms of that clause. 14 Atl. Marine, 571 U.S. at 64. (“[T]he plaintiff must bear the burden of showing why the court should not transfer the case to the forum to which the parties agreed.”). No. 19 2930 11 The district court also erred in concluding that the East ern District of California’s familiarity with the applicable 15 state law “weigh[ed] heavily in favor of transfer.” Alt hough “each court’s relative familiarity with the relevant law” is a public interest factor that may be considered, Re search Automation, 626 F.3d at 978, the district court’s heavy reliance on this factor contradicts the Supreme Court’s guid ance in Atlantic Marine. There, the Supreme Court noted that “federal judges routinely apply the law of a State other than 16 the State in which they sit.” Atl. Marine, 571 U.S. at 67. 15 R.105 at 8. 16 Notably, the Court previously had expressed skepticism about the “expertise” of a local district court in determining the content of a state’s law. In Salve Regina College v. Russell, 499 U.S. 225, 238 (1991), while de ciding whether a court of appeals should defer to a district court’s inter pretation of the law of the state in which the district court sat, found it self “unpersuaded” by that proposition, which it thought based on an “overbroad generalization[].” It continued: the proposition that a district judge is better able to “in tuit” the answer to an unsettled question of state law is foreclosed by our holding in Erie. The very essence of the Erie doctrine is that the bases of state law are presumed to be communicable by the parties to a federal judge no less than to a state judge. Almost 35 years ago, Professor Kurland stated: “Certainly, if the law is not a brooding omnipresence in the sky over the United States, neither is it a brooding omnipresence in the sky of Vermont, or New York or California.” Philip B. Kurland, Mr. Justice Frankfurter, the Supreme Court and the Erie Doctrine in Di versity Cases, 67 Yale L. J. 187, 217 (1957). See S. Pac. Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205, 222 (1917) (Holmes, J., dissenting) (“The common law is not a brooding omnipresence in (continued … ) 12 No. 19 2930 The Southern District of Indiana, in holding that this fac tor is entitled heavy weight, did not identify, moreover, any features of the relevant California law that were “exception ally arcane.” Id. at 68; see also Aliano v. Quaker Oats Co., No. 16 C 3087, 2017 WL 56638, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2017) (“[N]or have Plaintiffs identified any unique or idiosyncratic aspect of Illinois law at issue here that would make this court’s purported greater familiarity with Illinois law significant.”). We therefore must conclude that the district court erred in concluding that this factor weighed heavily in favor of a transfer back to the Eastern District of California. The district court also erred in its treatment of another public interest factor, “‘the administrative difficulties flow ing from court congestion.’” Atl. Marine, 571 U.S. at 62 n.6 (quoting Piper Aircraft, 454 U.S. at 241 n.6). The district court concluded “that the caseload and scheduling congestion in this District and on the undersigned’s trial calendar weigh in favor of transfer.”17 The district court also rejected RYZE’s ( … continued) the sky but the articulate voice of some sovereign or quasi sovereign that can be identified”). Id. at 238–39 (internal citations edited) (parallel citations omitted). The Court continued: “To the extent that the available state law on a controlling issue is so unsettled as to admit of no reasoned divination, we can see no sense in which a district judge’s prior exposure or nonex posure to the state judiciary can be said to facilitate the rule of reason.” Id. at 239. Given this skepticism, we see no reason why a non local dis trict court would be less capable of discerning the content of another state’s law. 17 R.105 at 6. No. 19 2930 13 argument that a court’s docket congestion is only considered under this public interest factor to the extent it affects the case’s time to resolution. Instead, the district court broadly construed “administrative difficulties” to include “trial cal endar congestion, the amount of time the Court can dedicate to cases, and the extent to which this Court’s unprecedented caseload strain impacts the ability of court and clerk staff to 18 fulfill their duties.” The district court evaluated this factor through a differ ent lens than the one usually employed by the federal courts. We have held that, “[t]o the extent that court congestion matters, what is important is the speed with which a case can come to trial and be resolved.” In re Factor VIII or IX Concentrate Blood Prod. Litig., 484 F.3d 951, 958 (7th Cir. 2007) (emphasis added). We further explained: [T]he real issue is not whether a dismissal [for forum non conveniens] will reduce a court’s con gestion but whether a trial may be speedier in another court because of its less crowded docket. In addition, … [t]he forum non conven iens doctrine should not be used as a solution to court congestion; other remedies, such as placing reasonable limitations on the amount 18 Id. at 5. In its response to the order to show cause, RYZE explained that this factor weighed against transferring the case back to the Eastern District of California because “[t]he median time from filing to trial in civil cases is substantially shorter in the Southern District of Indiana at 26.4 months compared to nearly a year longer in the Eastern District of California at 36.8 months.” R.103 at 8. 14 No. 19 2930 of time each side may have to present evi dence, are more appropriate. Id. at 958–59 (first and last alterations in original) (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). Our perspective is shared by other circuits. See Gates Lear jet Corp. v. Jensen, 743 F.2d 1325, 1337 (9th Cir. 1984) (“The real issue is not whether a dismissal will reduce a court’s congestion but whether a trial may be speedier in another court because of its less crowded docket.”); In re Scott, 709 F.2d 717, 721 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (“The law is well established that a federal court may not order transfer under section 1404(a) merely to” alleviate docket congestion); Fannin v. 19 Jones, 229 F.2d 368, 369 (6th Cir. 1956) (same). Although the district court noted that it could not sched ule a trial for at least fourteen months from the transfer deci 20 sion (or longer if any scheduling delay occurred), it never addressed whether trial would be speedier in the Eastern 19 We also note that the district court did not consider the additional time that would be incurred by transferring the case back to the Eastern District of California. This action was docketed with the Southern Dis trict of Indiana for a year. During that time, the parties engaged in dis covery and motions practice, the district court held numerous confer ences with the parties, and it ruled on RYZE’s motion for summary judgment. Two fully briefed issues, RYZE’s motion to strike Mr. Billings’s expert report and Mr. Billings’s class certification motion, remained unresolved by the district court when it ordered the parties to show cause why the action should not be transferred back to the Eastern District of California. Presumably, the Eastern District of California would need additional time to familiarize itself with this action. 20 R.105 at 5–6. No. 19 2930 15 District of California. Instead, the district court merely ob served that its own docket was crowded, and its resources strained, before concluding that this factor weighed in favor 21 of a transfer. 21 Mr. Billings maintains that the Southern District of Indiana did not abuse its discretion in considering its docket congestion under this pub lic interest factor. He invites our attention to Chicago, Rock Island & Pac. R.R. Co. v. Igoe, 220 F.2d 299 (7th Cir. 1955), in which we stated, “‘[a]dministrative difficulties follow for courts when litigation is piled up in congested centers instead of being handled at its origin.’” Id. at 304 n.4 (quoting Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 507 (1947)). That case is of little value in our present inquiry because it did not involve a fo rum selection clause. Indeed, the plaintiff’s choice of forum was afforded “‘[a] large measure of deference.’” Id. at 304 (quoting Josephson v. McGuire, 121 F. Supp. 83, 84 (D. Mass. 1954)). Mr. Billings also relies on In re Genentech, Inc., 566 F.3d 1338, 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2009), where the court stated that “[t]he likely speed to trial ‘factor appears to be the most speculative … and case disposition statis tics may not always tell the whole story.’” Respondent’s Br. 22 (quoting In re Genentech, Inc., 566 F.3d at 1347). The quoted language fails to cap ture fully the court’s intended meaning. In In re Genentech, the Federal Circuit first stated that, “[t]o the extent that court congestion is relevant, the speed with which a case can come to trial and be resolved may be a factor.” In re Genentech, Inc., 566 F.3d at 1347. Then, in stating that “this factor appears to be the most speculative,” id., the Federal Circuit cited Collins v. American Automobile Insurance Co. of Saint Louis, 230 F.2d 416, 419 (2d Cir. 1956). In Collins, the Second Circuit explained that it has “of ten questioned reliance upon the fact of locally congested dockets as a proper ground for an order of transfer.” Id. at 419. Besides the fact that “conditions below may be no worse than elsewhere,” the court stated that “we think it dangerous to suggest that a judge may deny entrance to his court to a litigant on the ground of his serious burdens; his under standable complaints should be directed elsewhere, as to executive and legislature.” Id. 16 No. 19 2930 Most importantly, the district court should have given more weight to the role that forum selection clauses play in the proper application of § 1404(a)’s command that, in decid ing a transfer motion, the district court consider “the inter ests of justice.” In Atlantic Marine, the Supreme Court une quivocally emphasized that a forum selection clause plays a very significant role in furthering “‘vital interests of the jus tice system.’” Atl. Marine, 571 U.S. at 63 (quoting Stewart, 487 U.S. at 22 (Kennedy, J., concurring)). These clauses go a long way toward establishing predictability and certainty in legal transactions. [A] clause establishing ex ante the forum for dispute resolution has the salutary effect of dispelling any confusion about where suits arising from the contract must be brought and defended, sparing litigants the time and ex pense of pretrial motions to determine the cor rect forum and conserving judicial resources that otherwise would be devoted to deciding those mo tions. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585, 593–94 (1991) (second emphasis added). “[A] proper application of § 1404(a) requires that a forum selection clause be ‘given controlling weight in all but the most exceptional cases.’” Atl. Marine, 571 U.S. at 59–60 (quoting Stewart, 487 U.S. at 33 (Kennedy, J., concurring)). “In all but the most unusual cas es, therefore, ‘the interest of justice’ is served by holding par ties to their bargain.” Id. at 66. No. 19 2930 17 This case is not an “exceptional” case. Indeed, for pur poses of the federal transfer statute, it is a very “ordinary” action.22 Notably, neither the Southern District of Indiana nor Mr. Billings identified any decision since Atlantic Marine in which a district court refused to enforce a valid fo rum selection agreement under § 1404(a) due to exceptional circumstances. RYZE invites our attention to only two deci sions. The first of these cases is Ha Thi Le v. Lease Finance Group, LLC, No. 16 14867, 2017 WL 2915488 (E.D. La. May 9, 2017). This case is of very limited help in our present in quiry. There, the district court had to decide whether to sev er and transfer some claims while retaining others. The court ultimately decided that “the need—rooted in the valued public interest in judicial economy—to pursue the same claims in a single action in a single court can trump a fo rum selection clause.” Id. at *7 (quoting In re Rolls Royce Corp., 775 F.3d 671, 679 (5th Cir. 2014)). The second case that RYZE identifies is Bollinger Shipyards Lockport, L.L.C. v. Hun tington Ingalls Inc., No. 08 4578, 2015 WL 65298 (E.D. La. Jan. 5, 2015). As RYZE points out, however, this case is distin guishable because the defendant waited six years before moving to transfer venue. By that time, the district court al ready had ruled on, among numerous other motions, a mo tion for summary judgment and a motion for reconsidera tion. We have identified several other cases where courts have found extraordinary circumstances. Each of these cases pre sented a significantly more serious and unusual situation 22 Petitioner’s Br. 27. 18 No. 19 2930 than the one here. For example, the court in ABC Medical Holdings, Inc. v. Home Medical Supplies, Inc., No. 15 2457, 2015 WL 5818521, at *9 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 6, 2015), the court did not have jurisdiction over one of the parties, and the court could not sever the claims. The court held that “it would require litigation of substantially the same issues in two different courts.” Id. “The public interest in efficiency served by liti gating substantially the same claims in one court rather than two outweighs the prior agreement as to forum … .” Id. Sim ilarly, in In re Dozier Financial, Inc., 587 B.R. 637, 650 (Bankr. D. S.C. 2018), the court did not enforce a forum selection clause where only one of the six defendants was bound by the clause and where splitting up the case would have re sulted in “substantially duplicative discovery and court pro ceedings.” The court acknowledged that forum selection clauses are meant to provide parties with greater predictabil ity about where they would engage in future litigation, but noted that in that particular case, the forum selection clause did the opposite. Id. at 650–51. See Alabsi v. Savoya, LLC, No. 18 cv 06510 KAW, 2019 WL 1332191, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 25, 2019) (“Courts recognize three circumstances in which enforcement of a forum selection clause would be unreason able: (1) if the inclusion of the forum selection clause was the product of fraud or overreaching, (2) if the party challenging the forum selection clause would effectively be deprived of his day in court if the clause is enforced, or (3) if enforcement would contravene a strong public policy of the forum in which the suit was brought.” (citing Murphy v. Schneider Nat’l, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1140 (9th Cir. 2004))); Argosy Cap. Grp. III, L.P. v. Triangle Cap. Corp., No. 17 Civ. 9845 (ER), 2019 WL 140730, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 9, 2019) (An exceptional case is “where the action is core to a bankruptcy proceeding, in No. 19 2930 19 which case the policy toward enforcement of fo rum selection clauses is ‘not so strong’ as to mandate en forcement in the face of strong countervailing public inter ests in centralizing bankruptcy proceedings, judicial econo my, and overall justice.” (quoting In re Iridium Operating LLC, 285 B.R. 822, 836–37 (S.D.N.Y. 2002))). None of the complications identified by the courts in these cases is present here. Indeed, the clause already had brought the case to the Southern District of Indiana, and that court had partially decided the case. Mr. Billings articulates no compelling reason to seek a return to California at this juncture. The “interests of justice,” as delineated in Atlantic Marine, clearly require that the district court complete its ad judication of the case. Conclusion We accordingly grant RYZE’s petition for writ of man damus. The district court deviated substantially from the methodological course of decision making mandated by the Supreme Court of the United States. This is not the excep tional or unusual case that would justify giving controlling weight to factors other than the forum selection clause. PETITION GRANTED; WRIT ISSUED
Primary Holding
District court erred in transferring a case in violation of a forum selection clause in an employment agreement.

Disclaimer: Justia Annotations is a forum for attorneys to summarize, comment on, and analyze case law published on our site. Justia makes no guarantees or warranties that the annotations are accurate or reflect the current state of law, and no annotation is intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice. Contacting Justia or any attorney through this site, via web form, email, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship.