Red Bull Associates v. Best Western Intern., Inc., No. 336

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore KAUFMAN, OAKES, NEWMAN; IRVING R. KAUFMAN; Knapp
Citation862 F.2d 963
PartiesRED BULL ASSOCIATES, Gordon Weiss and Murray Weiss, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant-Appellant. ocket 88-7600.
Decision Date29 November 1988
Docket NumberD,No. 336

Page 963

862 F.2d 963
57 USLW 2334
RED BULL ASSOCIATES, Gordon Weiss and Murray Weiss,
Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant-Appellant.
No. 336, Docket 88-7600.
United States Court of Appeals,
Second Circuit.
Argued Nov. 2, 1988.
Decided Nov. 29, 1988.

Page 964

Lewis M. Steel, New York City, Steel Bellman & Levine, P.C. (Miriam F. Clark, New York City, with him on the brief), for plaintiffs-appellees.

Franz S. Leichter, New York City, Walter, Conston, Alexander & Green, for defendant-appellant.

Before KAUFMAN, OAKES, NEWMAN, Circuit Judges.

IRVING R. KAUFMAN, Circuit Judge:

This case presents the issue whether a contractual forum selection clause should prevail when the district court found that enforcing the clause would hamper more important imperatives of the forum in which suit was brought. Because we believe the decision to transfer a case where there is a contractual choice-of-forum provision and significant public policy concerns at issue is best left to the sound discretion of the trial judge, we affirm.

I.

Best Western International, Inc. ("Best Western") appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, denying its motion to transfer the action to the District of Arizona pursuant to a forum selection clause and 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1404(a). 1

Appellee, Red Bull Associates ("Red Bull"), is a limited partnership which owns and operates the Red Bull Motor Inn, a motel in Poughkeepsie, New York. Appellees, Gordon and Murral Weiss, are general partners in Red Bull; they supervise the daily activities of the Inn.

Under an affiliation agreement between appellee's and Best Western, an Arizona non-profit corporation, Red Bull secured use of the Best Western name, logo, emblems, and registered marks, all of which command considerable "good will" in the motel industry. Since 1985, this annually renewed agreement has included a forum selection clause stipulating that any dispute arising out of the contract could be brought only in an Arizona court. 2 The contract also allowed the appellant to monitor maintenance and housekeeping standards in each member motel by biannual inspections. Failure to receive a passing score resulted in the property being placed on probation and reinspected in 90 days. A second failing score was a ground for termination of the affiliation.

After two unsatisfactory examinations in 1986, Best Western's Inspector Byrne placed the Inn on probation. Byrne scrutinized the Inn a third time giving it a passing

Page 965

score. Red Bull was then removed from probationary status.

Several months later, however, Inspector Hammond evaluated the Inn, and despite a refurbishing program during the intervening period, Red Bull received a failing score. While conducting his examination, Hammond allegedly stated that a group of black women and children on the grounds "looked terrible" and uttered other disparaging remarks. At a second inspection, Hammond again allegedly observed that the appearance created by certain minority families on the property and by their children playing in the parking lot was "terrible." He further commented that they lived like animals.

The subject of these remarks were homeless families living at the Inn under a contract between Red Bull and the Westchester, New York Department of Social Services. By the terms of that agreement, Red Bull provided 35 of its 145 rooms on a long-term basis as temporary shelter for the homeless. Approximately 80% of those housed by the program were black or Hispanic. 3

On November 24, 1987, Best Western terminated Red Bull's membership, purportedly due to the failure of the Inn to pass the required inspections. The appellee, however, asserted that the termination was due to racial bias and sought an injunction, alleging that the appellant violated the Civil Rights Acts of 1867, 1964, and 1968. 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1981-1982 (Civil Rights); id. Sec. 2000a-1, et seq. (Public Accommodations); id. Sec. 3601, et seq. (Fair Housing). Despite the forum selection clause, Red Bull brought the action in the Southern District of New York. Best Western moved to transfer the litigation to the District of Arizona pursuant to the forum selection clause and 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1404(a).

Judge Knapp denied the transfer motion, relying on The Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 92 S.Ct. 1907, 32 L.Ed.2d 513 (1972). After noting that Red Bull had "submitted evidence in the form of both documents and affidavits to support their charge of racial bias," he applied the public policy exception to the general rule enunciated in Bremen upholding forum selection clauses. Red Bull Assoc. v. Best Western Int'l. Inc., 686 F.Supp. 447 (S.D.N.Y.1988). He granted Best Western's petition for an interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(b) by order dated June 3, 1988.

II.

We note as a preliminary matter that this appeal was properly certified to us under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(b). 4 The district court rightly determined that the application of Bremen in the context of a civil rights action constituted a controlling question of law and that the other requisites for Sec. 1292(b) certification were also met in this case. 5 Nevertheless, Judge Knapp's ultimate resolution of the question whether

Page 966

this action should be transferred requires further comment because of an intervening change in the law.

III.

Judge Knapp assumed Bremen to be his lodestar in assessing the validity of forum selection clauses in the civil rights context. Bremen was an admiralty case in which the Supreme Court considered the weight accorded a choice-of-forum provision in an international towage contract. The court held that such a clause is prima facie valid unless the party challenging it clearly shows that "enforcement...

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95 practice notes
  • In re Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. Holocaust Ins., No. MDL 1374.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 25, 2002
    ...of plaintiffs' claims than a piece of legislation explicitly stating that interest. See Red Bull Assocs. v. Best Western Int'l, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 966-67 (2d Cir.1988) (noting the public policy significance of a "clear statutory declaration" that certain types of legal actions are to be en......
  • AXA Inv. Managers UK Ltd. v. Endeavor Capital Mgmt. LLC, No. 11 Civ. 3221(PGG)(MHD).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • August 24, 2012
    ...disputes by means of contractual choice of forum.” Nat'l Union Fire, 751 F.Supp. at 1078 (quoting Red Bull Assocs. v. Best W. Int'l, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 967 (2d Cir.1988)). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), parties may also consent to the jurisdiction of a Magistrate Judge. See Roell v. Withr......
  • Terra Intern., Inc. v. Mississippi Chemical Corp., No. C 95-4088.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • April 5, 1996
    ...Supreme Court added: `we hold that it does.' Stewart, 487 U.S. at 29, 108 S.Ct. at 2243."); Red Bull Assocs. v. Best Western Int'l, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 966-67 (2d Cir.1988) ("The Supreme Court has since decided Stewart ... in which it concluded that, outside the admiralty realm, § 1404(a) t......
  • Martinez v. Bloomberg LP, No. 12–3654–cv.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 14, 2014
    ...that courts invalidate a forum selection clause where enforcement “would frustrate that purpose.” Red Bull Assocs. v. Best W. Int'l, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 967 (2d Cir.1988) (finding denial of motion to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) proper, despite forum selection clause, since district c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
95 cases
  • In re Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. Holocaust Ins., No. MDL 1374.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 25, 2002
    ...of plaintiffs' claims than a piece of legislation explicitly stating that interest. See Red Bull Assocs. v. Best Western Int'l, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 966-67 (2d Cir.1988) (noting the public policy significance of a "clear statutory declaration" that certain types of legal actions ar......
  • Rubinbaum Llp v. Related Corporate Partners, No. 00 CIV 2715 JGK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 16, 2001
    ...expeditious and inexpensive." Gulf Oil Corp., 330 U.S. at 508, 67 S.Ct. 839; see also Red Bull Assoc. v. Best Western Int'l, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 966-67 (2d Cir.1988). The public interest includes administrative difficulties that follow from court congestion, a local interest in having ......
  • Barr Laboratories, Inc. v. Quantum Pharmics, Inc., No. CV-90-4406.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • July 7, 1993
    ...of whether to grant a motion to transfer is within the broad discretion of the trial court, Red Bull Assocs. v. Best Western Int'l, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 967 (2d Cir.1988); Factors Etc., Inc. v. Pro Arts, Inc., 579 F.2d 215, 218 (2d Cir.1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 908, 99 S.Ct. 1215, 59 L.E......
  • AXA Inv. Managers UK Ltd. v. Endeavor Capital Mgmt. LLC, No. 11 Civ. 3221(PGG)(MHD).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • August 24, 2012
    ...disputes by means of contractual choice of forum.” Nat'l Union Fire, 751 F.Supp. at 1078 (quoting Red Bull Assocs. v. Best W. Int'l, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 967 (2d Cir.1988)). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), parties may also consent to the jurisdiction of a Magistrate Judge. See Roell v. Withr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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