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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 09/03/2020 at 01:09:06 (UTC).

MONICA BLUT VS OCEANS INTERNATIONAL PACKING AND SHIPPING, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Case Summary

On 04/29/2020 MONICA BLUT filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against OCEANS INTERNATIONAL PACKING AND SHIPPING, INC , A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are SAMANTHA JESSNER, DAVID J. COWAN and JON R. TAKASUGI. The case status is Disposed - Dismissed.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******6379

  • Filing Date:

    04/29/2020

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Dismissed

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

SAMANTHA JESSNER

DAVID J. COWAN

JON R. TAKASUGI

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

BLUT MONICA

Defendant

OCEANS INTERNATIONAL PACKING AND SHIPPING INC. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

BLUT ELLIOT S.

KATZ SARA VICTORIA

Defendant Attorney

WASHKOWITZ JARED A

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION OF PLAINTIFF TO CONTINUE HEAR...)

8/31/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION OF PLAINTIFF TO CONTINUE HEAR...)

Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION OF PLAINTIFF TO CONTINUE HEARING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

8/31/2020: Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION OF PLAINTIFF TO CONTINUE HEARING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

Notice - NOTICE OF HEARING; CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

7/8/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF HEARING; CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE: SCHEDULED HEARING ON MOTION)

7/1/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE: SCHEDULED HEARING ON MOTION)

Notice - NOTICE OF POSTING SECURITY RE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

7/2/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF POSTING SECURITY RE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

Notice of Ruling

6/25/2020: Notice of Ruling

Order - ORDER GRANTING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

6/26/2020: Order - ORDER GRANTING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

Certificate - CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

6/11/2020: Certificate - CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

6/11/2020: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Motion to Dismiss

5/26/2020: Motion to Dismiss

Notice - NOTICE OF HEARING

5/26/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF HEARING

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

5/26/2020: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Order - ORDER GRANTING EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR TRO AND SETTING OSC RE P.I.

5/1/2020: Order - ORDER GRANTING EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR TRO AND SETTING OSC RE P.I.

Proof of Personal Service

5/4/2020: Proof of Personal Service

Complaint

4/29/2020: Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet

4/29/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Civil Case Cover Sheet

4/29/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

4/29/2020: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

23 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 09/01/2020
  • Docketat 10:00 AM in Department 17, Jon R. Takasugi, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Forum Non Conveniens (for Terminating Sanctions) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 09/01/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Forum Non Conveniens for Terminating Sa...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 08/31/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 17, Jon R. Takasugi, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (of Plaintiff to Continue Hearing on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss) - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 08/31/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Ex Parte Application of Plaintiff to Continue Hear...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 08/31/2020
  • DocketEx Parte Application (of Plaintiff to Continue Hearing on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss); Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/27/2020
  • DocketOpposition (of Monica Blut to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Forum Non Conveniens; Declaration of Monica Blut); Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/08/2020
  • DocketNotice (OF HEARING; CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE); Filed by Oceans International Packing and Shipping, Inc., a California corporation (Defendant)

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  • 07/08/2020
  • DocketCertificate (of Service re: Notice of Hearing); Filed by Oceans International Packing and Shipping, Inc., a California corporation (Defendant)

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  • 07/02/2020
  • DocketNotice (of Posting Security re Preliminary Injunction); Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/01/2020
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 17, Jon R. Takasugi, Presiding; Court Order

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22 More Docket Entries
  • 05/01/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (EX PARTE APPLICATION OF PLAINTIFF, MONICA BLUT, FOR TEMPORARY...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/01/2020
  • DocketOrder (granting ex parte application for TRO and setting OSC re P.I.); Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/30/2020
  • DocketDeclaration (of Elliot S Blut in Support of Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and OSC re Preliminary Injunction); Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/30/2020
  • DocketDeclaration (of Elliot S Blut); Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/30/2020
  • DocketEx Parte Application (for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause re Preliminary Injunction); Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/29/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/29/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/29/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/29/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/29/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Monica Blut (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STCV16379    Hearing Date: September 01, 2020    Dept: 17

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

DEPARTMENT 17

REVISED TENTATIVE RULING

MONICA BLUT

vs.

OCEANS INTERNATIONAL PACKING AND SHIPPING, INC.

Case No.: 20STCV16379

Hearing Date: September 1, 2019

Defendant’s motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens is granted.

On April 29, 2020, Plaintiff Monica Blut (Plaintiff) filed suit against Oceans International Packing and Shipping, Inc. (Defendant) alleging (1) fraudulent misrepresentation; (2) rescission; and (3) conversion.

Defendant now specially appears to move to dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint based on Forum Non Conveniens.

Plaintiff filed a late opposition on August 27, 2020. However, in response to Plaintiff’s ex parte application August 31, 2020, to continue the hearing on the motion, Defendant has agreed to allow the Court to consider Plaintiff’s opposition on the merits, and if necessary to file any Reply by the close of business August 31, 2020.

Legal Standard

When a court upon motion of a party or its own motion finds that in the interest of substantial justice an action should be heard in a forum outside this state, the court must stay or dismiss the action in whole or in part on any conditions that may be just. (Code Civ. Proc., § 410.30, subd. (a). This principle is the codification of the firmly established forum non conveniens Stangvik Shiley, Inc.

A defendant may enforce a forum-selection clause by bringing a motion pursuant to California’s forum non conveniens Distribtuors (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 179, 186.) A motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens conveniens conveniens

On a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens

With regard to reasonableness “[m]ere inconvenience or additional expense is not the test.” (Smith, Valentino & Smith, Inc. v. Superior Court (1976) 17 Cal.3d 491, 496.) Instead, a forum selection clause is unreasonable if “the forum selected would be unavailable or unable to accomplish substantial justice.” (CQL Original Products, Inc. v. National Hockey League Players’ Assn. (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1347, 1354.) In making this determination, the choice of forum “must have some rational basis in light of the facts underlying the transaction.” (Ibid.)

Factual Background

Plaintiff contracted with Defendant to ship her personal vehicle and household items from Los Angeles to Costa Rica, where she was moving. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant then tacked on additional, unforeseen fees, which she was forced to paid before she able to take possession of her vehicle. (Complaint ¶¶ 15-16.)

Discussion

Defendant argues that the underlying contract between it and Plaintiff contains a mandatory forum selection clause, that the claims here are covered by that clause, and that the instant action should be dismissed accordingly.

On a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens

With regard to reasonableness “[m]ere inconvenience or additional expense is not the test.” (Smith, Valentino & Smith, Inc. v. Superior Court (1976) 17 Cal.3d 491, 496.) Instead, a forum selection clause is unreasonable if “the forum selected would be unavailable or unable to accomplish substantial justice.” (CQL Original Products, Inc. v. National Hockey League Players’ Assn. (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1347, 1354.) In making this determination, the choice of forum “must have some rational basis in light of the facts underlying the transaction.” (Ibid.)

Here, Defendant relies on the following evidence:

- Plaintiff executed a Notice of Authorization which contained the following provision:

“I hereby authorize Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc. (TGAL) with full authorization as US forwarding agent to endorse all documents in connection with this shipment including the filing of the Electronic Export Information (EEI) for Customs export control. Grantor hereby acknowledges having received and read the terms and conditions of the Trans Global, Oceans International and Dazmac long form of Ocean Bill of Lading. Terms and Conditions can be found in full form on our website: www.tgal.us.” (George Decl., Exh. C, emphasis added.)

- The applicable Shipping Terms and Conditions on Trans Global’s website provides:

“All disputes arising hereunder shall be resolved at Tarrant County, Texas and at no other place.

• Irrevocably consent to the jurisdiction of the State and Federal courts located in Central District of Texas

• Agree that any action relating to the services performed by Trans Global shall only be brought in said courts

• Consent to the exercise of in persona jurisdiction by said courts over it, and

• Further agree that any action to enforce a judgment may be instituted in any jurisdiction.” (George Decl., Exh. E, original emphasis.)

- Plaintiff received an invoice which states:

“Rate does not include a possible random U.S. Customs inspection or x-ray. In the case of a U.S. customs inspection or x-ray exam, all charges are payable by the cargo owner and the U.S. Customs will not release cargo for exportation until such charges are paid in full.”

- Plaintiff was notified that her cargo had been randomly pulled for inspection and additional fees would be incurred. (George Decl.)

Defendant’s evidence suggests that Notice of Authorization signed by Plaintiff explicitly referenced the long-form Terms of Conditions provided on its website, and the long-form terms included a provision that all disputes were to be resolved in Texas. A forum selection clause is unreasonable if, “the forum selected would be unavailable or unable to accomplish substantial justice.” (CQL Original Products, Inc. v. National Hockey League Players’ Assn. (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1347, 1354.) In making this determination, the choice of forum “must have some rational basis in light of the facts underlying the transaction.” (Ibid.)

First, Plaintiff’s submitted evidence fails to show that she would be unable to pursue her fraud, rescission, and conversion causes of action in a Texas Court. The issue before the Court here is not whether Plaintiff’s underlying claims against Defendant have merit, but, rather, whether there is evidence that a contract was signed by the parties which contained a forum non conveniens clause, and whether there is reason to believe that justice requires voiding this clause. As stated, the Court concludes that there is not.

Second, while Plaintiff argues that Defendant’s caselaw showing that terms and conditions may be referenced rather than attached isn’t binding or persuasive, Plaintiff provides no case of her own to show that terms and conditions must be attached in order to be binding. Without any on point case law from the parties, the Court considers the issue through analogy.

The Court concludes that there is good reason to believe terms and conditions may be referenced, rather than attached, in a contract and still be enforceable. It is established California law that arbitration agreements need not attach a copy of the applicable arbitration rules to be enforceable. (Peng v. First Republic Bank (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 1462, 1469.) Rather, it is sufficient for the agreement to reference where the applicable rules can be found for review. (Ibid.) Just like an arbitration agreement which references the website where the applicable rules can be found, Defendant noted that the contract included terms and conditions and provided the website link where the terms could be found.

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens is granted.

It is so ordered.

Dated: September ___, 2020

Hon. Jon R. Takasugi

Judge of the Superior Court

 

 

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the court at smcdept17@lacourt.org by 4 p.m. the day prior as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org.  If a party submits on the tentative, the party’s email must include the case number and must identify the party submitting on the tentative. If all parties to a motion submit, the court will adopt this tentative as the final order. If the department does not receive an email indicating the parties are submitting on the tentative and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion may be placed off calendar.

Due to Covid-19, the court is strongly discouraging in-person appearances. Parties, counsel, and court reporters present are subject to temperature checks and health inquiries, and will be denied entry if admission could create a public health risk. The court encourages the parties wishing to argue to appear via L.A. Court Connect. For more information, please contact the court clerk at (213) 633-0517. Your understanding during these difficult times is appreciated.