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Saye v. First Specialty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Eastern District of New York

April 16, 2015

STEPHEN A. SAYE d/b/a GASTONIAN, Plaintiff,
v.
FIRST SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY and AMWINS BROKERAGE OF FLORIDA, INC. Defendants.

MERLIN LAW GROUP, Javier Delgado Jason Marc Cierci Janelle C.L. Matthews Attorneys for Plaintiff.

DLA PIPER LLP (US) Javier Delgado Jason Marc Cierci Janelle C.L. Matthews Attorneys for Plaintiff.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOHN GLEESON, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff insured Stephen A. Saye d/b/a Gastonian (“Saye”) brought this action against Defendants First Specialty Insurance Corporation (s/h/a First Specialty Insurance Company) (“First Specialty”) and Amwins Brokerage of Florida, Inc. (“Amwins”), seeking recovery under a commercial insurance policy for damages to his Dallas, Texas property resulting from a hail storm. First Specialty now moves to dismiss the action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and on grounds of forum non conveniens. First Specialty also moves for declaratory relief. For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

On October 9, 2014, Saye filed the complaint in this action. As mentioned, it seeks damages for breach of an insurance contract issued by First Specialty (the “First Specialty Contract”). Compl. ¶¶ 2-5. In an amended complaint filed after First Specialty submitted its motion to dismiss (the “Amended Complaint”), Saye added Amwins as a defendant. Am. Compl. at 1.

This action follows a lawsuit initially filed by Saye in the 101st Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas, which was subsequently removed by First Specialty to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas (the “Texas Federal Court Action”). See Am. Compl., Ex. A.[1] In the Texas Federal Court Action, First Specialty moved to dismiss based on the forum-selection clause of the First Specialty Contract. Id. at 1-2. As discussed more fully below, the forum-selection clause provides for exclusive jurisdiction in “the Courts of the State of New York.” Am. Compl., Ex. B at APP000010, No. 4 of 315. First Specialty argued that by commencing the action in Texas, Saye breached the forum-selection clause. Am. Compl., Ex. A at 1-2. Saye opposed the motion. See Id . at 6-9.

By Memorandum Opinion and Order dated April 9, 2014, United States District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn in the Northern District of Texas granted First Specialty’s motion to dismiss (the “Texas Federal Court Order”). Id. at 9. Based on the forum-selection clause in the insurance contract, the Northern District of Texas dismissed Saye’s complaint without prejudice “to refiling in a state court in New York.” Id. (emphasis added). Saye filed the complaint in this court six months later.

B. The First Specialty Contract

The First Specialty Contract, numbered 03000253, was issued to 5 Star Properties and contained an insurance policy period of June 10, 2012 to June 10, 2013. Am. Compl., Ex. B at APP000005. Saye is listed as an additional insured under the policy. Id. at APP000122, No. 116 of 315. The First Specialty Contract requires that any suits against First Specialty be filed in New York state court and that New York law applies to any disputes between the parties. Id. at APP000009-10, No. 3-4 of 315. Specifically, the “Applicable Law; Court Jurisdiction” provision of the contract states:

The laws of the State of New York, without regard to any conflict of laws rules that would cause the application of the laws of any other jurisdiction, shall govern the construction, effect, and interpretation of this insurance agreement.
The parties irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of the State of New York, and to the extent permitted by law the parties expressly waive all rights to ...

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