- Fact background
Who are the parties?
The plaintiff was Telemundo Network Group (Telemundo), a Delaware limited liability company authorized to do business in Florida and headquartered in Hialeah, Florida.
The defendants were Azteca International Corporation (Azteca), a Delaware corporation with its principal business office located in New York City and Bolas, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company with its principal business office located in Tucson, Arizona.
What does plaintiff want court to do?
Telemundo is appealing the trial court’s final order dismissing its action against Azteca and Bolas, LLC, on forum non conveniens grounds.
What does defendant want court to do?
The defendant wants the court to affirm the trial court’s dismissal.
What is the case about?
The case is an appeal of a dismissal based on the ground of forum non conveniens.
What is relevant?
In May 2001, Bolas and Telemundo entered into one-year license agreement, giving the latter the exclusive broadcast rights to televise the regular season home games of the Jaguares in the United States. This agreement was renewed in 2002 and 2003.
Pursuant to this agreement, Telemundo televised the Jaguares home games in the US from 2001 to December 2003. The 2003 license agreement provides that Florida law governs the agreement and that the state and federal courts of Miami-Dade County, Florida, have exclusive jurisdiction over Bolas and Telemundo for any litigation arising from this agreement.
In June 2003, Chiapas Futbol Club, S.A. de C.V, a Mexican entity, acquired ownership of the Jaguares. The sale of the team specifically included an agreement that Bolas retains the exclusive broadcast rights to televise the Jaguares’ home games in the US until the end of 2004.
On January 16, 2004, Telemundo notified Azteca America that Telemundo held the exclusive broadcast rights to all of the Jaguares home games in the United States until the end of the 2004 season.
On January 17, 2004, Bolas failed to transmit to Telemundo, in violation of the 2003 license agreement, the satellite signal for the Jaguares home game that Telemundo had already scheduled and promoted throughout the US for that date. Because of this breach, Telemundo was forced to broadcast to its viewers nationwide a different program in that time slot.
Telemundo immediately informed Bolas that it was in material breach of the 2003 agreement. Thereafter, Bolas failed to transmit any of the remaining Jaguares games to Telemundo until the team’s participation in the 2004 season ended on May 29, 2004, while Azteca was able to broadcast all of the games in the US.
In February 2004, the Chiapas Futbol Club notified Telemundo that on some prior date, Chiapas Futbol Club had granted an exclusive license to T.V. Azteca to televise the Jaguares home games for the 2004 season, in Mexico, the United States, and other countries.
- Procedural Background
- Telemundo’s filed complaint against Azteca and Bolas praying for damages against Bolas for breach of their license agreement. Telemundo also sought damages against Bolas that it allegedly sustained as a direct and proximate result of the alleged breach of contract by Bolas. Telemundo sued Azteca for intentional and unjustifiable tortious interference with the contractual relationship between Telemundo and Bolas and for conversion.
- In response, Azteca filed a motion to dismiss alleging forum non conveniens, failure to join indispensable parties, and failure to state a cause of action.
- The court granted Azteca’s motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens
- Telemundo filed this appeal.
Whether or not a case involving a contract with a forum selection clause and a choice of law clause may be dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds.
The contract in question between Telemundo and Bolas contained a forum selection clause (Miami), as well as a choice of law clause (Florida law). The forum-selection clause was mandatory, specifically requiring Bolas not to challenge Miami as a forum. As such, Bolas waived any claim that Florida is an inconvenient forum. Where a defendant has contractually agreed to a specific forum and waived the right to object to it, a court may not dismiss claims against that defendant on forum non conveniens grounds. Forum selection clauses are presumptively valid and should be enforced in the absence of a showing that enforcement would be unreasonable or unjust.
Narrow holding – this particular case and facts
In this case, it was clear that the agreement between Bolas and Telemundo included a forum selection clause and a choice of law clause. These provisions in the agreement preclude Bolas from asking for a motion to dismiss based on the ground of forum non conveniens unless it can show that enforcement would lead to injustice. In order to determine if such injustice would ensue, the court applied the Kinney Factors:
(a) Grounds for Dismissal. An action may be dismissed on the ground that a satisfactory remedy may be more conveniently sought in a jurisdiction other than Florida when:
(1) the trial court finds that an adequate alternate forum exists which possesses jurisdiction over the whole case, including all of the parties;
(2) the trial court finds that all relevant factors of private interest favor the alternate forum, weighing in the balance a strong presumption against disturbing plaintiffs’ initial forum choice; (3) if the balance of private interests is at or near equipoise, the court further finds that factors of public interest tip the balance in favor of trial in the alternate forum; and
(4) the trial judge ensures that plaintiffs can reinstate their suit in the alternate forum without undue inconvenience or prejudice.
Based on the four factors, the court found that if Telemundo were to file its suit in Mexico, it would have no remedy based on the causes of action alleged. It would also cause to incur additional costs and unnecessary inconvenience. For these reasons, the court held that the strong presumption against disturbing plaintiffs’ initial forum choice must be upheld.
An agreement in a contract regarding the forum of choice must be complied with in good faith like any other obligation. A contract is considered law between the parties who enter into it and the parties must respect these stipulations. The court may only question these stipulations when enforcement would lead to grave injustice. Additionally, the purpose of a dismissal on the ground of forum non conveniens is transfer the suit to a more convenient and effective forum. In this case, a dismissal would have caused more inconvenience rather than avoid it.
- Concurring/ Dissenting
There were no concurring or dissenting opinions.
The order of dismissal was reversed and the case is remanded to the trial court for the reinstatement of Telemundo’s action against Azteca and Bolas.
This decision did not change existing case law. In fact, all the court did was to apply existing doctrines.
 The Jaguares are a professional Mexican soccer team.
 Four Stars Resorts Bahamas, Ltd. v. Allegro Resorts Mgmt. Serv., 734 So. 2d 576, 577 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999).
 Bombardier Capital, Inc. v. Progressive Mktg. Group, Inc., 802 So. 2d 131, 134 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001)
 The Kinney Factors are the rules set forth in the decided case of Kinney Sys., Inc. v. Continental Ins. Co., 674 So. 2d 86 (Fla. 1996) and later codified in the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.061(a).