Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.

Fljankovic v. Fljankovic

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

February 13, 2018

SINISA FLJANKOVIC, et al., Defendants.



         THIS CAUSE comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Amended Complaint [ECF No. 47] (“Motion”). The Court has reviewed the Motion and the record and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Dusica Fljankovic (“Plaintiff) and her son Sinisa Fljankovic (“Sam”) jointly own and operate a number of real estate investments and ventures. In conjunction with these investments, Plaintiff and Sam established several limited liability companies, each with its own operating agreement. Plaintiff alleges that because of a pattern of fraud by Sam and a number of his associates, these operating agreements and actions taken by Sam on behalf of the various LLCs do not conform to oral promises made by Sam to Plaintiff.

         Though the alleged misconduct goes back nearly two decades, the present conflict came to a head in 2014. In June of that year, Sam's brother and Plaintiffs other son, Danny, confront- ed Sam about money allegedly owed to Plaintiff. Sam told Danny that he was in the process of selling a property and would use the funds from that sale to purchase an apartment building in Boynton Beach, Florida-the Ocean Park Apartments-in which he promised to give Plaintiff a 50% equity ownership interest. In July 2014, Sam purchased the Ocean Park Apartments and formed a new limited liability company: Ocean Park Apartments, LLC. Plaintiff alleges that although she was promised a 50% equity ownership interest in the property, the Ocean Park Apartments, LLC Operating Agreement (“Ocean Park Agreement”) gave her only a minority interest. She alleges that she was rushed into signing it without being given an opportunity to read it or review it with counsel.[2] The Ocean Park Agreement contains a forum-selection clause, which mandates that “any suit involving any dispute or matter arising under this Agreement may only be brought in a Florida State Court situated in Broward County having jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute or matter.” [ECF No. 42-2, at 10].

         Plaintiff seeks a declaration that she is not bound by a number of operating agreements relating to the investments-including the Ocean Park Agreement-as well as damages for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud in the inducement. Her Amended Complaint brings claims against Sam, his wife, and a number of his business associates (collectively, “Defendants”). Defendants moved to dismiss on the grounds that the forum-selection clause in the Ocean Park Agreement is valid and should be enforced.[3]


         As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that a Rule 12(b)(3) motion to dismiss for improper venue is the incorrect procedural vehicle to enforce a forum-selection clause where, as here, venue is otherwise proper. See Atl. Marine Const. Co., Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Ct. for W. Dist. of Tex., 134 S.Ct. 568, 580 (2013). However, in the interests of judicial economy and because the parties have substantively addressed the factors relevant to both analyses, the Court will treat the motion to dismiss for improper venue as a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens.

         “Under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, a district court has the inherent power to decline to exercise jurisdiction even when venue is proper.” Vanderham v. Brookfield Asset Mgmt., Inc., 102 F.Supp.3d 1315, 1318 (S.D. Fla. 2015) (citing Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 506-07 (1947), superseded by statute on other grounds as recognized in Am. Dredging Co. v. Miller, 510 U.S. 443 (1994)). Although a court may consider matters outside the pleadings in ruling on a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens, it “must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all factual conflicts in favor of the plaintiff.” Id. (quoting Wai v. Rainbow Holdings, 315 F.Supp.2d 1261, 1268 (S.D. Fla. 2004)). “To obtain dismissal for forum non conveniens, ‘[t]he moving party must demonstrate that (1) an adequate alternative forum is available, (2) the public and private factors weigh in favor of dismissal, and (3) the plaintiff can reinstate his suit in the alternative forum without undue inconvenience or prejudice.'” GDG Acquisitions, LLC v. Government of Belize, 749 F.3d 1024, 1028 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Leon v. Mil-lon Air, Inc., 251 F.3d 1305, 1310-11 (11th Cir. 2001)).


         “The doctrine of forum non conveniens permits a court with venue to decline to exercise its jurisdiction when the parties' and court's own convenience, as well as the relevant public and private interests, indicate that the action should be tried in a different forum.” Pierre-Louis v. Newvac Corp., 584 F.3d 1052, 1056 (11th Cir. 2009). In a typical case, a court proceeds directly through those factors. “The calculus changes, however, when the parties' contract contains a valid forum-selection clause . . . .” Atl. Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 581. When there is a valid forum-selection clause, the Court no longer considers the private interest factors. See Id. at 581-82. “As a consequence, a district court may consider arguments about public-interest factors only.” Id. at 582. Because the public interest factors will “rarely defeat” a forum non conveniens motion, “the practical result is that forum-selection clauses should control except in unusual cases.” Id.

         The Court's preliminary step, therefore, is to determine whether there is a valid forum-selection clause. Cf. Id. at 581 n.5. If the forum-selection clause is valid, the Court must then apply the modified forum non conveniens analysis from Atlantic Marine. The Court must also consider whether “an adequate alternate forum exists which possesses jurisdiction over the whole case, including all the parties” and must “ensure[] that plaintiffs can reinstate their suit in the al-ternate forum without undue inconvenience or prejudice.” Wilson v. Island Seas Inv., Ltd., 590 F.3d 1264, 1269 (11th Cir. 2009) (citing Aldana v. Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc., 578 F.3d 1283, 1289-90 (11th Cir. 2009)).

         A. Validity and Enforceability of the Forum-Selection Clause

         “Forum-selection clauses are presumptively valid and enforceable unless the plaintiff makes a ‘strong showing' that enforcement would be unfair or unreasonable under the circum-stances.” Krenkel v. Kerzner Int'l Hotels Ltd., 579 F.3d 1279, 1281 (11th Cir. 2009) (citing Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585, 593-95 (1991) and M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off- Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 10 (1972)). Courts in the Eleventh Circuit enforce “only those clauses that unambiguously designate the forum in which the parties must enforce their rights under the contract.” Florida Polk County v. Prison Health Servs., Inc., 170 F.3d 1081, 1083 n.8 (11th Cir. 1999). “A forum-selection clause will be invalidated when: (1) its formation was induced by fraud or overreaching; (2) the plaintiff would be ...

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.