Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Caddell Construction Co. (DE), LLC v. Danmar Lines Ltd.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

March 29, 2018

CADDELL CONSTRUCTION CO. (DE), LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DANMAR LINES, LTD., Defendant.

          ORDER

          Lee H. Rosenthal, Chief United States District Judge.

         The defendant, Danmar Lines, LTD, moves to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. (Docket Entry No. 9). The plaintiff, Caddell Construction Co. (DE), LLC, objects. (Docket Entry Nos. 15, 16). Based on the pleadings, the motion and response, the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, Danmar's motion to transfer is granted. The reasons for this ruling are set out below.

         I. Background

         Danmar agreed to deliver 28 of Caddell's air handling units from Norfolk, Virginia to a United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Docket Entry No. 1-1 at 3-4). Caddell alleges that its cargo was damaged in transit between Karachi Port, Pakistan and Kabul. Id. at 4. Caddell alleges that Danmar breached its contract with Caddell, was negligent, and breached its bailment obligations. (Docket Entry No. 1).

         Danmar moved to transfer to the Southern District of New York under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) because the bills of lading include a forum-selection clause specifying that as the venue where any claims against Danmar will be determined. (Docket Entry No. 9 at 8-9). The forum-selection clause states:

14.2. U.S. Carriage - The contract evidenced by or contained in this bill of lading or otherwise arising from the Carriage or in relation to the Goods shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the United States of America and particularly 28 USC Section 1300 et seq. of U.S. COGSA. Any claim against the Carrier under this bill of lading or otherwise arising from or in relation to the Services or the Goods shall be determined exclusively by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to whose jurisdiction the Merchant irrevocably submits. The Merchant agrees that it shall not institute legal proceedings in any other court and shall indemnify the Carrier for all legal costs and expenses incurred by the Carrier to transfer or to remove a suit filed in another forum.

(Docket Entry No. 9-2 at 15). Danmar argues that transfer will not cause administrative difficulties, there are no local interests favoring resolution in Texas, and New York federal courts are as familiar with admiralty law as those in Texas. (Docket Entry No. 9 at 11-14).

         Caddell responds that a separate and prior agreement-the "purchase order"-not the bills of lading, controls. (Docket Entry Nos. 15, 16). The purchase order does not have a forum-selection clause. Caddell concedes that neither party formally executed the purchase order, (Docket Entry No. 16 at 6), but argues that they operated under its terms and rates. (Docket Entry No. 16-1 at 5); (Docket Entry No. 16-4 at 13-17). Caddell asserts that the bills of lading are "mere receipts" because the purchase order governs. Caddell argues that it "never agreed to the default application of the [bills of lading] to this dispute and was, in fact, never made aware of the alleged default application of the [bills of lading]." (Docket Entry No. 20-1 at 1). Caddell argues that it had no notice of the terms and conditions because it received a scan of only the front side of the bills of lading. Id. at 1, 5. Caddell asserts that the consignee, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, received the originals of the bills of lading, not Caddell. Id. at 2.

         Danmar responds that Caddell had notice of the bills of lading terms because Danmar was a licensed non-vessel operating common carrier and had to file its bill of lading form with the United States Federal Maritime Commission for approval. (Docket Entry No. 27 at 2); (Docket Entry No. 19-1 at ¶ 3); (Docket Entry No. 19-2 at ¶ 3). Danmar argues that this filing made the bill of lading public and put Caddell on constructive notice of its terms and conditions. (Docket Entry 27 at No. 2-3).

         II. The Legal Standard

         A motion to change venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) is appropriate where venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391, but where, "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, " the defendant seeks to transfer the suit to another "district or division where it might have been brought." Id. § 1404(a). "[T]he purpose of [§ 1404(a)] is to prevent the waste' of time, energy and money' and 'to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.'" Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964) (quoting Cont'l Grain Co. v. The FBL-585, 364 U.S. 19 (I960)). "There can be no question but that the district courts have 'broad discretion in deciding whether to order a transfer.'" In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 311 (5th Cir.2008) (quoting Balawajder v. Scott, 160 F.3d 1066, 1067 (5th Cir. 1998)). "In exercising that discretion, courts are to examine a collection of private and public factors." Cooper Lighting, LLC v. Kumar, 2013 WL 5775687, at *9 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 25, 2013).

         "The private interest factors are: (1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (2) the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses; (3) the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and (4) all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive. The public interest factors are: "(1) the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; (2) the local interest in having localized interests decided at home; (3) the familiarity of the forum with the law that will govern the case; and (4) the avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws [or in] the application of foreign law." In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (quotations and citations omitted).

         "[A] forum-selection clause . . . may be enforced through a motion to transfer under § 1404(a)." Ail. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for W. Dist. of Texas, 134 S.Ct. 568, 579, (2013). "When the parties have agreed to a valid forum-selection clause, a district court should ordinarily transfer the case to the forum specified in that clause, " and "[o]nly under extraordinary circumstances unrelated to the convenience of the parties should a § 1404(a) motion be denied." Id. at 581.

         III. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.