784 N.E.2d 1192 (Ohio App. 1 Dist. 2003), C-020272, Information Leasing Corp. v. Jaskot

Docket Nº:C-020272.
Citation:784 N.E.2d 1192, 151 Ohio App.3d 546, 2003-Ohio-566
Opinion Judge:GORMAN, Judge.
Party Name:INFORMATION LEASING CORPORATION, Appellant, v. JASKOT, d.b.a. Highbridge Mobil, Appellee. [*]
Attorney:William P. Coley II, Cincinnati, for appellant. William P. Coley II, for appellant. Young, Reverman & Mazzei and Stephen P. Rodenbeck, for appellee.
Judge Panel:DOAN, P.J., and SUNDERMANN, J., concur.
Case Date:February 07, 2003
Court:Court of Appeals of Ohio
 
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Page 1192

784 N.E.2d 1192 (Ohio App. 1 Dist. 2003)

151 Ohio App.3d 546, 2003-Ohio-566

INFORMATION LEASING CORPORATION, Appellant,

v.

JASKOT, d.b.a. Highbridge Mobil, Appellee. [*]

No. C-020272.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton.

February 7, 2003.

Page 1193

[151 Ohio App.3d 548] William P. Coley II, Cincinnati, for appellant.

Young, Reverman & Mazzei and Stephen P. Rodenbeck, Cincinnati, for appellee.

GORMAN, Judge.

{¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant Information Leasing Corporation ("ILC") appeals from the trial court's dismissal of its complaint against defendant-appellee Walter Jaskot, d.b.a. Highbridge Mobil. ILC claimed in its complaint that Jaskot had defaulted under the terms of a contract between ILC, an Ohio corporation wholly owned by Provident Bank, and Jaskot for the rental of an automated teller machine

Page 1194

("ATM"). The trial court granted Jaskot's motion to dismiss the complaint, ruling that the agreement's forum-selection clause was the product of overreaching by ILC, that there was little interest in maintaining the litigation in Ohio under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, and that Jaskot did not have minimum contacts with Ohio sufficient to confer in personam jurisdiction on an Ohio common pleas court. See Civ.R. 12(B)(2). Holding that the trial court erred in dismissing this case, and to amplify upon this court's previous analysis of the numerous ILC cases now being litigated in the lower courts, we reverse and remand.

{¶ 2} The written agreement between ILC and Jaskot was a contract for the rental and financing of an ATM machine. Jaskot is a resident of New York. The ATM was installed at his automobile service station located in Schenectady, New York. Jaskot entered into a separate agreement with Credit Card Center ("CCC"), a third-party corporation, to provide service for the ATM.

{¶ 3} Jaskot signed the ILC contract on behalf of his business and as a guarantor. Directly above the "authorized signature" line in the ILC agreement, in capital letters, was a consent-to-jurisdiction, or forum-selection, clause. The clause read, "YOU AGREE THAT THIS AGREEMENT SHALL BE CONSTRUED AND GOVERNED ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF OHIO, AND YOU CONSENT TO THE JURISDICTION AND VENUE OF ANY COURT LOCATED IN THE STATE OF OHIO. YOU AND WE EXPRESSLEY [sic] WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO TRAIL [sic] BY JURY."

{¶ 4} After the signature block was a personal guaranty statement that read, "I/WE CONSENT TO THE PERSONAL JURISDICTION AND VENUE OF ANY COURT LOCATED IN THE STATE OF OHIO. I/WE EXPRESSLY WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY. THIS GUARANTY SHALL BE CONSTRUED AND GOVERNED ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF OHIO." Jaskot signed after both statements.

{¶ 5} Shortly after the signing, CCC filed for bankruptcy relief in the federal courts. The ATM was not serviced, and Jaskot made only eight payments on the 60-month agreement with ILC. As a result of the default, ILC brought suit in Hamilton County, Ohio, pursuant to the forum-selection clause.

{¶ 6} On January 22, 2002, Jaskot filed an amended answer in which he claimed that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over him. On February 5, 2002, he moved to dismiss the complaint on this basis. By affidavit attached to his motion, Jaskot stated that he was unfamiliar with many of the terms contained in the ILC contract. ILC responded to the motion and attached a copy of the contract and the affidavit of ILC's supervisor of collections.

[151 Ohio App.3d 550] {¶ 7} In its written decision dismissing ILC's complaint against Jaskot, the trial court concluded that the forum-selection clause was invalid as the result of unequal bargaining and overreaching by ILC, that enforcement of the forum-selection clause violated public policy, and that its enforcement would be burdensome and inconvenient to Jaskot.

{¶ 8} In its first and third assignments of error, ILC now contends that the trial court erred in...

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