Law School Case Brief
Martinez v. Bloomberg LP - 883 F. Supp. 2d 511 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)
Determining the scope of a forum selection clause is a matter of contractual interpretation. Thus, courts in the Second Circuit have generally held that when a contract includes a choice of law clause, the chosen forum's law governs interpretation of the forum selection clause.
Brian Anthony Martinez filed a complaint against his former employer, Bloomberg LP ("Bloomberg"), and two Bloomberg employees, Andrew Lack and Catriona Henderson. Martinez asserted a claim against Bloomberg for unlawful termination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., and claims against all defendants for violations of the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), 15 N.Y. Exec. Law § 296 et seq., and the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"), 8 N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-502(a) et seq. Relying on a forum selection clause in the employment agreement between Martinez and Bloomberg, defendants Bloomberg and Lack moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for dismissal of the complaint in its entirety for improper venue. In the alternative, defendants Bloomberg and Lack moved, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for dismissal of the NYSHRL and NYCHRL claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that the alleged discrimination had no "impact" within New York.
Were Martinez’ claims subject to the forum selection clause?
The court ruled in favor of Bloomberg. The court held that Martinez' claims were subject to the forum selection clause. Accordingly, the court applied English law to determine the scope of the forum selection clause. The court further held that Martinez did not overcome the presumption of enforceability. The forum selection clause was presumptively enforceable and the burden was on Martinez to rebut that presumption. In sum, the hardships cited by Martinez — most of which were a product of his voluntary decisions to litigate his claims simultaneously in both England and in New York and then to drop the English suit — were not enough to rebut the presumption of enforceability and relieve him from the consequences of his agreement to the forum selection clause. The clause therefore bars Martinez from litigating his claims against Bloomberg in the United States. It also bars him from litigating his claims against Lack and Henderson, even though they were not signatories to the agreement, as they were "sufficiently close" to Bloomberg for enforcement of the forum selection clause to be "foreseeable."
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