United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division
R. READE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
matter before the court is Plaintiff Cottingham & Butler
Claim Services, Inc.'s (“Cottingham”)
“Motion for Remand” (“Motion”) (docket
RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY
October 31, 2017, Cottingham filed a “Petition at
Law” (“Petition”) (docket no. 2) in the
Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Iowa (“Iowa
District Court”). In the Petition, Cottingham asserts a
claim for breach of contract against Defendant Conduent Car
Solutions, LLC (“Conduent”). See
Petition at 1-3. On December 19, 2017, Conduent filed a
Notice of Removal (docket no. 1), bringing the case before
the court. On December 21, 2017, Cottingham filed the Motion.
On December 29, 2017, Conduent filed an Answer (docket no.
5). On January 2, 2018, Conduent filed a Resistance (docket
no. 6). On January 3, 2018, Cottingham filed a Reply (docket
no. 7). Neither party has requested oral argument and the
court finds that oral argument is unnecessary. The matter is
fully submitted and ready for decision.
Motion, Cottingham requests that the court remand the instant
action to the Iowa District Court based on an Agreement
signed by the parties, which contains a forum selection
clause. The forum selection clause provides that venue is
only proper “in the courts of the State of Iowa.”
Motion at 2. Cottingham contends that, based on the
Agreement, venue is only proper in the state courts of Iowa.
Id. Conduent argues that the forum selection clause
does not “restrict litigation between the parties to
state courts in the State of Iowa.” Resistance at 2
(emphasis omitted). Rather, Conduent contends that
“[t]he broad language in the Agreement allows [the]
parties to file suit in either the Iowa District Court or the
federal courts of the State of Iowa.” Id. at
defendant . . . desiring to remove any civil action from a
State court shall file in the district court of the United
States for the district and division within which such action
is pending a notice of removal . . . .” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1446(a). Parties may contractually waive the right to
remove a case by incorporating a forum selection clause.
See iNet Directories, LLC v. Developershed, Inc.,
394 F.3d 1081, 1082 (8th Cir. 2005); see also RK Dixon
Co. v. Dealer Mktg. Servs., Inc., 284 F.Supp.2d 1204,
1208 (S.D. Iowa 2003). “A forum selection clause is a
manifestation of the parties' expectations of where any
resultant litigation will take place.” RK
Dixon, 284 F.Supp.2d at 1209.
court “has the inherent power to remand [a case] to
state court in order to give effect to [a] forum-selection
clause, even if subject-matter jurisdiction exists and
there has been no ‘defect' in removal under 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c).” Medtronic, Inc. v.
Endologix, Inc., 530 F.Supp.2d 1054, 1056 n.1 (D. Minn.
2008); see also Foster v. Chesapeake Ins. Co., 933
F.2d 1207, 1214-16 (3d Cir. 1991) (finding that remand based
on a forum selection clause was lawful even though not
specifically authorized by § 1447(c)); McDermott
Int'l, Inc. v. Lloyds Underwriters of London, 944
F.2d 1199, 1203 (5th Cir. 1991) (noting that remand was
appropriate in a case involving a forum selection clause).
“Forum selection clauses are prima facie valid and are
enforced unless they are unjust or unreasonable or invalid
for reasons such as fraud or overreaching. They are
enforceable unless they would actually deprive the opposing
party of his fair day in court.” M.B. Rests., Inc.
v. CKE Rests., Inc., 183 F.3d 750, 752 (8th Cir. 1999)
does not allege that the forum selection clause is unjust,
unreasonable or invalid for any reason and, upon review, the
court finds no basis upon which to so find. As such, the
court need only consider whether the clause waives
Conduent's right to remove the case to federal court. The
Agreement's forum selection clause states:
This agreement and the performance hereunder, shall be
governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the
State of Iowa and of the United States (without giving effect
to its conflicts of law principles, which might otherwise be
applicable). Further, in the unlikely event that court
proceedings should arise from this agreement, any such
actions or proceedings shall be maintained only in the courts
of the State of Iowa. Such courts shall have exclusive
jurisdiction over any such proceedings brought by either
Petition at 7. Cottingham argues that the phrase “in
the courts of the State of Iowa” precludes removal of
the action to federal court. Conduent contends that the
phrase “in the courts of the State of Iowa” also