926 F.2d 865 (9th Cir. 1991), 89-16413, Spradlin v. Lear Siegler Management Services Co., Inc.

Docket Nº:89-16413.
Citation:926 F.2d 865
Party Name:Tolbert Dean SPRADLIN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. LEAR SIEGLER MANAGEMENT SERVICES COMPANY, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:February 15, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 865

926 F.2d 865 (9th Cir. 1991)

Tolbert Dean SPRADLIN, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

LEAR SIEGLER MANAGEMENT SERVICES COMPANY, INC., et al.,

Defendants-Appellees.

No. 89-16413.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 15, 1991

        Submitted Dec. 10, 1990.[*]

Page 866

        Joseph F. Harbison, III, Wilcoxen, Callahan, Montgomery & Harbison, Sacramento, Cal., for plaintiff-appellant.

        Howard F. Fine, Robin L. Filion, Baker & McKenzie, San Francisco, Cal., for defendants-appellees.

        Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

        Before TANG, FLETCHER and REINHARDT, Circuit Judges.

        FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:

        Tolbert Dean Spradlin appeals the district court's enforcement of a forum selection clause in his employment contract with defendant Lear Siegler Management Services Corporation ("Lear Siegler"), and the resulting dismissal of his action for improper venue pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3). He likewise appeals the district court's denial of his request for oral argument on his motion to remand the action to state court and on the defendants' motion to dismiss. We affirm the district court's denial of oral argument and its enforcement of the forum selection clause and dismissal of the action for improper venue.

        BACKGROUND

        Lear Siegler is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Oklahoma City. It is in the business of providing military support services to the United States government, such as aircraft maintenance and overhaul and general base support. It provides such services throughout the world pursuant to contracts with the United States armed services. The three individual defendants, Charles T. Scott, Norbert D. Gorman, and Frederick Stuart Mayo are respectively president, executive vice president and an employee of Lear Siegler.

        Spradlin, who had been an employee of Lear Siegler in various countries (including Saudi Arabia) for 25 years, signed a two-year "Saudi Arabia Employment Agreement" on March 27, 1988, providing for his employment in the position of "Deputy Program Manager, Operations." The employment agreement is standardized but five provisions of the Summary of Employee Benefits Allowance 1 (concerning shipment and storage of personal effects, vacation leave and travel allowance, and completion award) were revised by the parties, apparently in light of Spradlin's long tenure and prior arrangements with the company. The employment agreement contains a choice of law and forum selection clause providing that:

This Employment Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The courts of Saudi Arabia shall have sole jurisdiction over any disputes arising out of this Employment Agreement.

        In addition to signing the employment agreement on the final page, both Spradlin and the representative of Lear Siegler initialled each page of the agreement.

        Spradlin commenced work in Saudi Arabia and moved his wife and two children there with him. He was terminated from his position with Lear Siegler on October 27, 1988 and, according to his complaint, was locked out of his job. He alleges that he and his family were then ordered to leave Saudi Arabia within 10 days. Spradlin subsequently moved to California, where he filed a complaint in state court on April 14, 1989, alleging breach of contract and related claims, including slander, emotional distress, fraud and age discrimination.

        Lear Siegler removed the case to federal court on diversity grounds and moved for dismissal pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)(3), and 12(b)(6). 2 Spradlin moved for remand to state court, alleging that the parties were not perfectly diverse. The motions were consolidated for hearing by the district court judge.

Page 867

Because of confusion surrounding the rescheduling of the hearing, counsel for plaintiff failed to appear for oral argument on the motions. The court, without hearing oral argument from Lear Siegler, ordered the motions submitted, denied Spradlin's motion to remand, and granted Lear Siegler's motion to dismiss based on the existence of a valid forum selection clause.

        Counsel for Spradlin received written notice of the hearing on the day after it occurred. He immediately requested that the court allow him to present oral argument, and submitted a declaration by his office receptionist explaining...

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