• May 13, 2014

SugarCubes2Many erroneously believe that Alabama is a relatively sweet home state and Minnesota is thought to be the home of bitterness (bitter cold, that is). With all due respect to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the great state of Alabama, this is simply wrong. In fact, it is demonstrably false. (I can only conclude that Lynyrd Skynyrd might have been speaking metaphorically. This is the only explanation.)

If you could scoop up these two states, Alabama and Minnesota, put them in beakers and dissolve them, and sip them, Minnesota would be the far sweeter state because Minnesota produces a hella more sugar and Alabama does not. (Hella.)

And when Minnesota sugar companies get into litigation with out-of-state companies, they obviously would prefer to fight it out at home, sweet home. One would think that should not be a problem because the companies can simply specify in their contracts that lawsuits have to be brought in Minnesota. It is a problem, however, when a Minnesota company brings a lawsuit that fails to respect its own forum selection clause. (D’OH!)

Unite Sugars Corporation locked Florida companies, Tropical Worldwide Corp., Commercial Long Trading, and United Packaging Corp., into a forum selection clause requiring the parties to:

submit to the jurisdiction of the District Court, Seventh Judicial District, Clay County, Minnesota, and agree that forum is the proper venue and forum for adjudication of all disputes between the parties…

and then sued the Florida companies in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

Oops. (Here is U.S. District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery tossing out U.S. Sugars’ case (but also rejecting the Florida companies’ (very weak) arguments based on a purported lack of personal jurisdiction.)

[Query: If United Sugars dues the Florida companies now in the specified state court, can the Florida companies remove the case to federal court (and then file a motion to dismiss and transfer to a federal court in Florida)? That would be a bitter pill to swallow.]

[If any readers have a particular interest in sugar litigation, here’s another earlier Minnesota Litigator post about another big dollar Minnesota sugar squabble.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *