Guenther v. Crosscheck Inc., Slip Copy, 2009 WL 1248107 (N.D.Cal., Apr 30, 2009)(NO. C 09-01106 WHA)

In this proposed class action CAFA card game, the plaintiff played a hand in the Sonoma County Superior Court. The plaintiff alleges that he was fraudulently enrolled in the defendant’s (Crosscheck Inc) check-verification service without his knowledge and then was forced to pay termination fees and penalties to extricate himself.

The defendants removed the CAFA card game to federal court. The plaintiff moved to remand seeking enforcement of a forum-selection clause. The remand was granted, and the CAFA card game was sent back to the Sonoma State Card Table Court.

The plaintiff contends that the forum selection contains mandatory language requiring the CAFA card game to be played at the Sonoma State Card Table Court. The agreement states, “The parties agree that any action arising out of the negotiation, execution or performance of the terms and conditions of this agreement shall be brought in the courts of Sonoma County, California.”

The defendants claim the language is mandatory as to the filing of the suit, but it is permissive as to removal. However, the court did not find this argument convincing. The court noted that “shall be brought” language was mandatory and required remand so that the action could be litigated in the specified state court.

The defendants contend that they should be allowed to play the CAFA card game at the federal CAFA card table under the CAFA rules. CAFA gave federal courts original jurisdiction over class actions that satisfy specified criteria, but it did not give federal courts exclusive jurisdiction. The defendants argue that the legislature wanted to channel interstate class actions to federal court. However, CAFA does not trump a valid, enforceable and mandatory forum-selection clause by which parties agreed to litigate in state court.

By: Ryan Hamilton