United States District Court, District of Columbia
David U. Fierst, Hard A. Bussey, Stein, Mitchell & Mezines, LLP, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.
Carol Thomas Stone, Jordan, Coyne & Savits, LLP, Fairfax, VA, John Tremain May, Jordan, Coyne & Savits, LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendant.
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, District Judge.
Christian Hara, a resident of the District of Columbia, contracted with Hardcore Choppers, LLC, of Virginia, to redesign and remanufacture her motorcycle. Ms. Hara thereafter lost control of the motorcycle on Rock Creek Parkway in the District of Columbia and suffered very serious injuries from the resulting crash. She blames the instability of the front end of her motorcycle after Hardcore's redesign and sues Hardcore in the District of Columbia. Hardcore moves to dismiss or to transfer to the Eastern District of Virginia, arguing that it does not do business in the District so that it is not subject to personal jurisdiction here, and that the contract contained both a forum selection clause and a waiver of liability which preclude this suit.
The forum selection clause, which this Court finds is fully enforceable, decides where this case should be tried. The Court addresses only that issue.
Christian Hara visited the Hardcore Choppers location in Sterling, Virginia on or about July 8, 2010. Def.'s Reply [Dkt. 13] Ex. A (Decl. Alfredo Carlin) ¶ 6; Def.'s Reply Ex. B (Decl. David Mathis) ¶ 2. She discussed a redesign and remanufacturing of her motorcycle with Hardcore employees. Mathis Decl. ¶ 2. Hardcore gave Ms. Hara Invoice # 001397 to record the work she wanted done to her motorcycle. Id. ¶ 4; Mathis Decl. Ex. 1 (" Invoice 1397" ); see also Pls.' Opp. Ex. 1 [Dkt. 11-2] (same). Thereafter, by " Final Work Order," Invoice No. 1455 dated July 14, 2010, Hardcore committed to perform the work list attached to the original invoice and priced the work. Mathis Decl. ¶ 6; Mathis Decl. Ex. 3 (" Final Work Order" ); see also Pls.' Opp. Ex. 23 [Dkt. 11-24] (same). Ms. Hara signed the Final Work Order, expressly authorizing the work to be done for about $9,900. Mathis Decl. ¶ 7; Final Work Order. The Final Work Order clearly contained the following paragraph above the signature line, albeit in small typeface:
WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS
Customer has read, understands and accepts that by employing Hardcore Choppers LLC, to customize, alter, replace, add, or change any existing part and/or accessory from the vehicle, will change the original engineering and integrity of the vehicle. As such, customer hereby agrees as follows: Customer recognizes
and understands the scope, nature and extent of the risks involved in driving the vehicle after the repair, customization, alteration, replacement, addition or change. The customer voluntarily, freely, and expressly chooses to assume all risks and hazards associated with such. Additionally, the customer understands and accepts that custom parts application is outside the norm and not compliant with the original design and purposes of [ill.] motorcycle. Custom parts application does not conform with manufacturers guidelines and will void a manufacturer warranty. Custom parts are not street legal nor approved for highway use. Custom parts have not been tested, evaluated, or approved by a government agency. Further, the customer releases, discharges, absolves, indemnifies and holds harmless Hardcore Choppers, LLC, and it's [sic] owners and/or representatives from any and all liability, claims, demands, causes of action whatsoever arising out of any damage, loss, injury, or death to me, my property, and other individuals and their property. Including any claims caused by negligence of Hardcore Choppers, LLC, for all work described on the Final Work Order/Invoice. CUSTOMER INTENDS AND AGREES that this Release and Waiver of Liability Agreement will be governed by Virginia law in Loudoun County. CUSTOMER also agrees that any dispute relating to this Agreement will be resolved exclusively in the Courts of Virginia. CUSTOMER also waives the rights to a trial by jury. I HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THE FOREGOING RELEASE AND BY AFFIXING MY SIGNATURE TO THIS FINAL WORK ORDER/INVOICE, SIGNIFY MY CLEAR INTENTION TO BE LEGALLY BOUND BY IT. THIS RELEASE SHALL NOT BE AMENDED OR MODIFIED OR ANY OF ITS PROVISIONS WAIVED UNLESS IN WRITING AND SIGNED BY THE LEGALLY AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVES OF BOTH PARTIES.
Final Work Order (emphasis added).
The redesigned motorcycle was delivered to Ms. Hara on September 16, 2010. Mathis Decl. ¶ 9; Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 5. On Saturday, October 30, 2010, at approximately 1:25 p.m., she was driving on her motorcycle on Rock Creek Parkway " when she was caused to lose control of the motorcycle due to instability in its front end, throwing her from the motorcycle to the roadway." ...