United States District Court, S.D. California
PAMELA CRAWFORD, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
BEACHBODY, LLC, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO CHANGE VENUE AND TRANSFER THE CASE TO THE UNITED STATE DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA; AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES FROM DEFENDANT'S ANSWER
[Dkt. Nos. 15, 17.]
GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.
Before the Court is Defendant's motion to change venue to transfer this action to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. (Dkt. No. 15.) Plaintiff filed an opposition and Defendant filed a reply. (Dkt. Nos. 19, 22.) Plaintiff also filed a motion to strike affirmative defenses of Defendant's answer. (Dkt. No. 17.) Defendant filed an opposition and Plaintiff replied. (Dkt. Nos. 21, 24.) Based on the reasoning below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to change venue and transfers the case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Accordingly, the Court DENIES without prejudice Plaintiff's motion to strike affirmative defenses from Defendant's answer.
On July 1, 2014, Plaintiff Pamela Crawford filed a putative class action complaint alleging violations of the California False Advertising law; California Consumers Legal Remedies Act; Unfair Competition Law; Breach of Express Warranty; and Breach of Implied Warranty of Fitness as to Defendant Beach Body's anti-aging skincare product under the name Derm Exclusive featuring a product called Fill & Freeze. (Dkt. No. 1, Compl.) Defendant marketed this product through websites, videos and television infomercials as an "instant wrinkle eraser." (Id. ¶ 1.) It claims that Fill & Freeze not only "eliminates the appearance of wrinkles... instantly, " but also provides long lasting therapeutic results by "promot[ing] cell renewal." (Id.) Beachbody also claims that with pads, "serum, " and a moisturizer, Fill & Freeze delivers results "as good as - or even better than - the top in-office cosmetic procedures." (Id.) On April 21, 2013, Plaintiff ordered and paid for the Derm Exclusive 4-Piece kit which contained the Fill & Freeze product through the internet via Beachbody's website. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 23; Dkt. No. 15-2, Gelfand Decl. ¶ 4.)
At the final page of placing an order, she was required to click an orange box containing the words "Place Order." Immediately above the "Place Order" box, there was language that said "By clicking Place Order below, you are agreeing that you have read and understand the Beachbody Purchase Terms and Conditions, and Team Beachbody Terms and Conditions." The words "Terms and Conditions" were in blue font, while the surrounding language was in grey font, and were hyperlinked to the actual Terms and Conditions. The effect of this was that a purchaser who clicked the blue "Terms and Conditions" language was shown the Terms and Conditions in a new window that opened on their screen in front of other windows that were already open. A purchaser could then navigate through the written Terms and Conditions. (Id. ¶¶ 6-8, Ex. B.)
The first paragraph of the Terms and Conditions provided in all capital letters: "BY USING THIS WEB SITE OR ANY WEB SITE OF BEACHBODY, LLC, AND TEAM BEACHBODY, AND/OR PLACING AN ORDER FOR BEACHBODY, LLC'S PRODUCTS OR SERVICES, YOU AGREE TO BE BOUND AND ABIDE BY BY [sic] THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND ANY AMENDMENTS THERETO, ..." Users are also advised, "IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS, PLEASE DO NOT USE THE SITE OR ORDER OR USE BEACHBODY'S PRODUCTS OR SERVICES." (Id. ¶ 8, Ex. C.) The Terms and Conditions to which Plaintiff agreed when she completed her online purchase contained a forum selection clause which provided,
Applicable Law and Venue
These Terms and Conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California, without resort to its conflict of law provisions. You agree that any action at law or in equity arising out of or relating to the Terms and Conditions or your use of the Sites shall be filed only in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California, or the United States District Court for the Central District of California, and except as stated herein you hereby irrevocably and unconditionally consent and submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of such courts over any suit, action, or proceeding arising out of the Terms and Conditions.
( Id., Ex. C at 18.)
Defendant seeks to enforce the forum selection provision in the Beachbody and Team Beachbody Terms and Conditions of use where the parties allegedly agreed to venue in the Central District of California. Plaintiff opposes for numerous reasons.
A. Motion to Transfer Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)
The Ninth Circuit applies federal law to the interpretation and enforcement of forum selection clauses. Manetti-Farrow, Inc. v. Gucci America, Inc. , 858 F.2d 509, 513 (9th Cir. 1988) (diversity case); Doe 1 v. AOL, LLC , 552 F.3d 1077, 1081 (9th Cir. 2009) (class action alleging violations of the federal electronic privacy law and various violations of California law). 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides: "(a) For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
1. Validity of Forum Selection Clause
First, Plaintiff challenges the validity of the forum selection clause arguing there was no mutual assent because she does "not recall seeing or agreeing to any terms and conditions on the BeachBody website." (Dkt. No. 19-2, Crawford Decl. ¶ 4.) Defendant disagrees.