PARTIES AND FACTS

Wegmans grocery store was constructing a store in Burlington Massachusetts. It hired two companies to work on the project.

Aerotek contracted with Wegmans that Aerotek would supply employees to provide construction supervision. Story was such an employee, hired to serve as construction foreman. As part of that agreement, Aerotek agreed to add Wegmans as an additional insured on Aerotek’s general liability coverage and to defend and indemnify Wegmans from claims related to the services.

WP Masonry contracted with Wegmans to perform masonry on the job. WP Masonry’s employee Holguin was injured when a scaffold collapsed. WP Masonry had agreed to include Wegmans as additional insured on the WP Masonry general liability policy and to defend and indemnify Wegmans from claims arising out of the WP Masonry work.

The injured employee sued Wegmans and Aerotek and Aerotek’s foreman Story in Massachusetts State Court. WP Masonry’s general liability insurer Fireman’s Fund paid to defend Wegmans.

Fireman’s Fund started a new Federal case asking the judge to make declarations about the duties under the insurance agreements. Fireman’s Fund asked the judge to declare that Aerotek or its employee or its insurer were at least partially liable with WP Masonry’s insurer Fireman’s Fund.

Agreements between Wegmans and both WP Masonry and Aerotek had “forum selection” clauses. All disputes arising out of the the services or related to the contract were to be brought in the Western District of New York.

ISSUE

Should the Massachusetts Federal judge interpret contract details of agreements that provided all cases from the agreements should be brought elsewhere.

HOLDING

No need to go beyond the valid forum selection agreement.

REASONS

The agreements included a section describing where disputes were to be brought – the Massachusetts court sent the parties to New York for interpretations of those agreements.

COMMENT

If you agree to fight somewhere else, don’t be surprised if a local judge sends you there.