United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
RICHARD A. LAZZARA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Defendant's Renewed Motion to
Transfer Venue, or in the alternative, Motion to Dismiss
(Dkt. 17) and Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (Dkt.
20). After careful consideration of the submissions of the
parties, the applicable law, and the entire file, the Court
concludes that the motion to transfer is due to be granted
and the motion to dismiss denied without prejudice.
action arises out of Plaintiff's purchase of a 2016 Thor
motor coach from Camping World RV Sales, an independent
dealership in Dover, Florida. The complaint seeks damages for
breach of express warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty
Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq. A limited
warranty that accompanied the purchase of the recreational
vehicle contained a forum-selection clause requiring all
claims be brought in a particular county in Indiana, which is
located in the Northern District of Indiana.
seeks to transfer this case to Indiana pursuant to the
forum-selection clause or, in the alternative, seeks
dismissal of the claim.
avers that she was neither provided a copy of the warranty
before the purchase, nor was she notified that the warranty
required all claims to be filed in Indiana. See
docket 20, page 27. Defendant avers that Plaintiff executed a
warranty registration form and received the limited warranty
as part of the owner's manual, both of which are attached
to the complaint. See docket 17-1, ¶ 8 and
Exhibits 1 and 2, and docket 2, Exhibit B. The warranty
registration form provides in part: “Before I purchased
this vehicle, I received, read and agreed to the terms and
conditions of Thor Motor Coach's 1 page Limited Warranty,
published within its Owner's Manual, and the Chassis
Limited Warranty.” The Limited Warranty referenced in
the warranty registration form contains the following
forum-selection clause in bold and capital letters:
“Any legal action to enforce warranty rights
against TMC must be brought within the County of Elkhart,
State of Indiana.” (Emphasis added).
seminal case to resolve a motion to transfer pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a) is Atlantic Marine Construction
Co., Inc. v. United States District Court for the Western
District of Texas, 571 U.S. 49, 134 S.Ct. 568, 187
L.Ed.2d 487 (2013). A district court should transfer the case
to the place agreed to in the forum-selection clause
“unless extraordinary circumstances unrelated to the
convenience of the parties clearly disfavor a
transfer.” Atlantic Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 575,
581. A valid forum-selection clause should be given
controlling weight in all but the most exceptional
circumstances. Id. at 581 (citation and quotation
marks omitted). “[T]he plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing that transfer to the forum for which the parties
bargained is unwarranted.” Id. The court
should disregard the parties' private interests but may
consider public-interest factors. Id. at 582.
Finally, the choice-of-law rules of the transferor venue,
which in this case is this Court, should not apply.
least three other district courts have ruled in Thor Motor
Coach, Inc.'s favor on the issue of transfer concerning
claims brought for breach of warranty. See Robidoux v.
Thor Motor Coach, Inc., Case No.
18-14146-CIV-MARTINEZ-MAYNARD (S.D. Fla. May 23, 2018)
(unpublished) at docket 10 (Notice of Supplemental
Authority); Messmer v. Thor Motor Coach, Inc., 2017
WL 933138 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 28, 2017); Knecht v. Thor Motor
Coach, Inc., 2017 WL 6546321 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 22, 2017).
All three courts transferred the cases to the Northern
District of Indiana pursuant to similar forum-selection
asks this Court not to enforce the forum-selection clause
because trial in Indiana would be sufficiently inconvenient
to Plaintiff in terms of not being able to travel to Indiana
based on her financial and health issues. The Court is
empathetic to the difficulties that will likely be
encountered by Plaintiff. Under the second prong of the
Atlantic Marine test, however, this Court is
precluded from considering the private concerns of Plaintiff.
also makes the argument that the forum-selection clause is
invalid and unenforceable because she was not provided a copy
of the limited warranty, or otherwise notified of the Indiana
requirement, before she purchased the motor coach. She does
not deny, however, that she signed the warranty registration
form as part of the purchase. The form clearly states that
she “received, read and agreed to” the terms of
the warranty. None of the cases cited by Plaintiff support
her position. For example, in St. Aubin v. Island Hotel
Co., 2017 WL 998298 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 15, 2017), the
plaintiff did not sign the agreement that contained the
forum-selection clause at check-in for the resort. In any
event, the instant case does not involve a vacationer
checking into hotel, but rather the purchase of a vehicle.
The Plaintiff does not contend that she was prevented from
reading the warranty registration form or the warranty, or
was somehow tricked before signing it. Moreover, the warranty
registration form identifies a specific document, which, at
the very least, put Plaintiff on notice that she should
examine the separate document before signing the form.
See Chaudoin v. Thor Motor Coach, Inc., 2017 WL
3485803, at *11 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 15, 2017). Having determined
that the forum-selection clause is valid and enforceable,
thereby warranting transfer, the Court need not address the
arguments raised under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
therefore ORDERED AND ADJUDGED as follows:
(1) Defendant's Renewed Motion to Transfer Venue (Dkt.
17) is granted.
(2) Defendant's Renewed alternative Motion to Dismiss
(Dkt. 17) is denied without prejudice.
(3) The Clerk is directed to transfer this
case to the Northern District of Indiana. After transfer is
effectuated, the Clerk is directed to terminate any pending
motions/deadlines and to close the case.