Medfin, Inc. v. Goldman

99-3611 (U.S. Dist. Ct. D. N.J. 2000) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: April 17, 2000

CONTRACTS; FORUM SELECTION—Where a party freely contracts to select a particular forum and the forum choice is not otherwise invalid, that person will be bound by the choice.

A Long Island, New York doctor entered into a written agreement with a Florida corporation, having principal offices in New Jersey, for the sale of some of the doctors’ accounts receivable. The agreement contained a provision that New Jersey law would govern, and contained a provision establishing New Jersey as the forum for litigation. When litigation commenced, the doctor sought to have the matter transferred to New York. His contention was that his medical practice and nearly all of the insurance companies that owed him money were located on Long Island, and therefore discovery would be very localized. He also argued that the case would involve “technicalities peculiar to New York practice, regulations, statutes, adjudicated cases, payment schedules, and the like for any claims” that might be raised. The Court pointed out that a plaintiff’s choice of venue is presumed correct, and that the moving party must demonstrate that its alternative forum is not only adequate, but more convenient than the present forum. In some cases, judges have limited their deference to plaintiff’s choice when the forum has little or no connection to the facts of the lawsuit. Here, according to the Court, the selection of New Jersey as the contractually agreed-upon forum “is treated as a manifestation of the parties’ preferences as to a convenient forum” and “is entitled to substantial consideration.” In the absence of fraud, undue influence, or overweening bargaining power, the doctor was required to demonstrate why the parties should not be bound to their contractual choice of forum. Here, where the doctor freely contracted with the financing company for a service, knowing that the financing company was headquartered in New Jersey, and also, where the record was devoid of any suggestion that the financing company bound the doctor to an invalid forum selection, the Court left the choice of forum undisturbed.