Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc.

211 F.3d 495 (2000)

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Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
211 F.3d 495 (2000)

Facts

Jones (plaintiff) and GNC Franchising, Inc. (GNC) (defendant) entered into various agreements, including a franchise agreement, with respect to Jones’s operation of a General Nutrition Store in La Verne, California. The franchise agreement contained a Pennsylvania choice of law clause and a forum selection clause, restricting venue to courts in the Pennsylvania judicial district of GNC’s principal place of business. After a dispute arose between Jones and GNC regarding the construction and operation of the La Verne store, Jones filed suit against GNC in a California state court. GNC removed the matter to federal district court on the basis of diversity, then moved the district court to: (1) dismiss the matter or transfer venue to the Western District of Pennsylvania, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) or (2) in the alternative, transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The court denied both motions, concluding that the forum selection clause in the parties’ agreement was unenforceable and that the California forum was appropriate because: (1) the claims, evidence, and witnesses had more connections to California than Pennsylvania, (2) most of the agreements relevant to the suit had been negotiated and signed in California, (3) Jones had selected a California forum, and (4) the relative costs to the litigants favored California. GNC appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Politz, J.)

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