United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR DISMISSAL OF THE CASE FOR FORUM NON CONVENIENS
SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.
Now before the Court is defendant's motion for reconsideration of the Court's February 6, 2014 Order denying defendant's motion to dismiss. For the reasons discussed in more detail below, the Court finds that reconsideration is appropriate. Having reconsidered the question, the Court hereby GRANTS defendant's motion to dismiss the case on the basis of forum non conveniens.
Plaintiff Joseph Monastiero is a resident of Alameda County, California and a former employee of defendant appMobi, a corporation headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Complaint ¶¶ 1-2. Monastiero began working for appMobi as Vice President of Business Development, in Alameda County, in September, 2010. Id. ¶ 8. Under the terms of Monastiero's employment agreement, he was entitled to a 10% commission fee on direct sales and a 5% commission on sales made by others at appMobi. Id. Monastiero's employment agreement included a governing law clause that specified the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as the forum of exclusive jurisdiction and venue for all matters arising under the contract, and further specified the law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the controlling law. Abadir Decl. Ex. A, Employment Agreement ¶ 16. The relevant term in Monastiero's employment agreement states:
16. Law Governing. This Agreement shall be governed by and enforced in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania without regard to its laws of conflicts of laws. The Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, shall have exclusive jurisdiction and venue of all matters arising hereunder. In such proceedings, Employee and the Employer each hereby consents to such jurisdiction and venue and waives any right to a jury trial.
Monastiero's employment with appMobi terminated in May, 2012; he signed a termination agreement with appMobi on May 31, 2012. Abadir Decl. Ex. B, Termination Agreement. This agreement included a governing law provision that specified the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, as the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of all matters arising under the agreement and the law of Pennsylvania as the controlling law. Id. ¶ 8. The pertinent clause in Monastiero's termination agreement reads:
8. GOVERNING LAW
This agreement shall be governed by and enforced in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania without regard to its laws of conflicts of laws. The Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, shall have exclusive jurisdiction and venue of all matters arising hereunder. Both parties hereby consent to such jurisdiction and venue and waive any right to a jury trial.
On November 6, 2013, Monastiero filed suit against appMobi in Alameda County Superior Court, for breach of contract, compensatory and general damages, and penalties as provided by California Labor Code § 203. Complaint pgs. 3-5. According to Monastiero, appMobi breached the employment and termination agreements by failing to pay him commission fees related to a transaction between appMobi and the INTEL corporation. Complaint ¶¶ 13-16.
On December 10, 2013, appMobi removed Monastiero's case to this Court. Docket No. 2. Three days later, appMobi filed a motion to dismiss the case for forum non conveniens or pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(3). Docket No. 13. On February 6, 2014, the Court denied defendant's motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens, finding that enforcement of the forum-selection clause would be unreasonable and unjust. Docket No. 20. The Court reasoned that Monastiero would effectively be deprived of his day in court due to the financial burden of litigating in Pennsylvania. Id. The Court further determined that enforcement of the forum-selection clause, which designates the law of Pennsylvania, would contravene California's strong public policy regarding prompt wage payment. Id. The Court also denied appMobi's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3) because venue was not improper. Id.
appMobi thereafter moved for certification of an interlocutory appeal of the Court's order denying the motion to dismiss, Docket No. 23, and for leave to file a motion for reconsideration of the Order. Docket No. 32. The Court granted appMobi's motion for leave and ordered both parties to submit additional briefing on the question of whether under the Supreme Court's recent opinion in Atlantic Marine Const. Co. Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 134 S.Ct. 568 (2013), a district court may or must consider the factors enunciated in M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1 (1972) in a separate analysis determining the enforceability of a forum-selection clause. The Court also directed the parties to evaluate the continuing vitality of the Ninth Circuit's direction in Murphy v. Schneider National Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1141-42 (9th Cir. 2003), that as to the "unreasonable and unjust" Bremen exception, "courts are to consider a party's financial ability to litigate in the forum selected by the contract when determining the reasonableness of enforcing a forum selection clause." Docket No. 34. The Court now considers appMobi's motion for reconsideration.
"Reconsideration is appropriate if the district court (1) is presented with newly discovered evidence, (2) committed clear error or the initial decision was manifestly unjust, or (3) if there is an intervening change in controlling law." School Dist. No. 1J v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993). Reconsideration should be used conservatively, because it is an "extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources." Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting 12 James We. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 59.30 (3d ed. 2000)). Movants are prohibited from repeating any argument made previously, ...