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August Resource Funding, LLC v. Procorp, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

August 9, 2019

AUGUST RESOURCE FUNDING, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PROCORP, LLC, and TIMOTHY ERIK SCHULTZ, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON District Judge

         Plaintiff August Resource Funding, Inc., brings this suit against defendants Procorp, LLC, and Timothy Schultz for breach of contract and replevin. Dkt. 1-1. August Resource says that it provided funding and administrative services for defendants' temporary employment agency, but defendants defaulted on their debt. August Resource says that defendants breached three different contracts between the parties.

         Defendants say that August Resource is bound by an arbitration clause found in the initial contract executed by the parties. They move to dismiss the case or, in the alternative, compel arbitration. Dkt. 9. The court will deny the motion because the arbitration clause was superseded by subsequent documents executed by the parties.

         JURISDICTION

         In its previous order, the court asked defendants to file supplemental materials showing that the court can exercise diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, Dkt. 16. Defendants have now submitted materials showing the both defendant Timothy Schultz and defendant Procorp, LLC, are citizens of Michigan. Dkt. 17. Because August Resource is a citizen of Wisconsin, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, the court is satisfied that complete diversity exists and that it may exercise jurisdiction under § 1332.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendants refer to their motion as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim or, in the alternative, to compel arbitration. But a motion to dismiss based on a contractual arbitration clause is appropriately brought as an objection to venue under Rule 12(b)(3), not under Rule 12(b)(6). See Faulkenberg v. CB Tax Franchise Systems, LP, 637 F.3d 801, 807-08 (7th Cir. 2011). When ruling on a motion to dismiss for improper venue, the court may consider the allegations in the complaint as well as evidence submitted in support of the motion. See Continental Cas. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Ins. Co., 417 F.3d 727, 733 (7th Cir. 2005). The court accepts as true any allegations in the complaint that are not contradicted by other evidence, and it resolves all factual disputes and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Faulkenberg, 637 F.3d at 806. Here, the relevant facts are undisputed.

         Defendants operate a temporary employment agency and August Resource is a company that provides funding and administrative services for temporary employment agencies. On February 8, 2017, the parties entered into an agreement for August to provide defendants with payroll services and interim funding for defendants' payroll obligations to its employees. Dkt. 10-1. In return, defendants agreed to compensate August Resource with proceeds it received from its clients. The agreement contained an arbitration clause:

#14) ARBITRATION. Any controversy arising out of this Agreement or any amendment thereof now or in the future, including any claim for damages or rescission or both, which cannot be resolved between the parties, shall be settled by arbitration. All arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association.

Id., ¶ 14. In addition to the arbitration clause, the agreement also contained a venue clause that stated that “any litigation or proceeding arising out of, in connection with, or relating to this Agreement, shall be instituted in the Circuit Court of Rock County, Wisconsin.” Id., ¶ 15.

         Five days later, defendants executed a promissory note for an original principal balance of $4.9 million. The parties also executed two additional documents. First, a security agreement that granted August Resource an interest in defendants' assets as collateral for payment of the principal balance. Dkt. 12-2. Second, a continuing guaranty in which Procorp, and its sole owner-member Schultz, agreed to be held jointly and severally liable for all debts owed to August Resource. Dkt. 12-3.

         Neither the security agreement nor the guaranty contained an arbitration clause, but both contained updated forum-selection clauses. The security agreement states that “[a]ll actions arising directly or indirectly in connection with, out of, related to or from this Security Agreement must be litigated in courts within the State of Wisconsin.” Dkt. 12-2, ¶ 16. The guaranty also states that “all actions or proceedings arising directly or indirectly in connection with, out of, or related to or from this Guaranty must be litigated in courts within the State of Wisconsin.” Dkt. 12-3, ¶ 5. But the next sentence of the guaranty's forum-selection clause contradicts the rest of the clause: “[a]ny litigation under this agreement shall be resolved in the trial courts of Winnebago County, Illinois.” Id.

         Defendants defaulted on their payments, and August Resource filed suit in the Circuit Court of Rock County to collect the debt. Dkt. 1-1. ...


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