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Chebotnikov v. LimoLink, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 11, 2015

VLADIMIR CHEBOTNIKOV, EUGENE PANTYUKHIN, and YOUSEF SHARMA, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
LIMOLINK, INC., Defendant

          For Vladimir Chebotnikov, Eugene Pantyukhin, Yousef Sharma, Plaintiffs: Hillary A. Schwab, LEAD ATTORNEY, Fair Work, P.C., Boston, MA; Edward L. Manchur, Knudsen, Burbridge & Manchur, PC, Wakefield, MA.

         For LimoLink, Inc., Defendant, Counter Claimant: Robert P. Sherman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Matthew J. Iverson, DLA Piper U.S. LLP, Boston, MA; Miles D. Norton, DLA Piper U.S. LLP, New York, NY.

         For Vladimir Chebotnikov, Counter Defendant: Hillary A. Schwab, LEAD ATTORNEY, Fair Work, P.C., Boston, MA; Edward L. Manchur, Knudsen, Burbridge & Manchur, PC, Wakefield, MA.

Page 129

         MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, TO TRANSFER VENUE

         F. Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge.

         This is a putative class action under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiffs Vladimir Chebotnikov, Eugene Pantyukhin, and Yousef Sharma are limousine drivers employed by defendant LimoLink, Inc. They have filed suit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, alleging that LimoLink violated federal and state law by failing to classify its drivers as employees, failing to pay overtime, failing to pay gratuities, and failing to reimburse drivers for expenses.

         LimoLink has moved to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) based on a provision in its service-provider agreement that it contends mandates exclusive jurisdiction for any litigation in Iowa. In the alternative, LimoLink has moved under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, again based on a provision in the agreement.

         For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss and the alternative motion to transfer venue will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Relationship

         LimoLink is an Iowa corporation. It brokers chauffeur services provided by individuals that LimoLink classifies as independent contractors. (Hupfeld Aff. Ex. A). Plaintiffs allege that they have all worked under contract as service providers for Limolink in Massachusetts. (Sec. Amend. Compl. ΒΆ 10; Hupfeld Aff. Ex. A, B, C).

         Each of the service-provider agreements is essentially identical. Each agreement contains an arbitration clause and a forum-selection clause. The relevant language states:

If a dispute arises under the terms of this Agreement, such disputes shall be submitted to ...

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