United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
GARY E. HUGHES, et al., Plaintiffs,
RED RIVER GORGE ZIPLINE, LLC, d/b/a Red River Gorge Zipline Tours, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. WIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
on a clause in the agreement Gary Hughes signed before he
went ziplining in Red River Gorge, Plaintiff moves the Court
to remand this personal injury case to Wolfe Circuit. DE #15
(Motion). Defendant opposed. DE #16 (Response). Hughes
replied. DE #20 (Reply). For the following reasons, the Court
DENIES DE #15 and declines to remand the
pertinent clause reads as follows:
JURISDICTION: Notwithstanding the waiver of liability,
release, indemnification, and covenant not to sue which I/we
understand and sign voluntarily, I/we further agree that any
claim based upon or arising from this document, or my/our
participation in the Activity,  will be brought in a court
located in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and be subject to the
statutory and common law of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
I/we also . . . agree to the jurisdiction of the Wolfe
Circuit Court or the Wolfe District Court to hear any
dispute, legal complaint, or petition for damages.
DE #15-2, at 2. Wolfe particularly focuses argument on his
“agree[ment] to the jurisdiction of the Wolfe Circuit
Court or the Wolfe District Court to hear any dispute, legal
complaint, or petition for damages.” Defendant, no
surprise, does not contest that this forum-selection clause
is enforceable under Kentucky law. DE #16, at 2.
Sixth Circuit has described the relevant law in this
The statutory right of removal of a case from state to
federal court under § 1441 is a right that can be
waived, but such waiver must be “clear and
unequivocal.” Regis Assocs. v. Rank Hotels (Mgmt.)
Ltd., 894 F.2d 193, 195 (6th Cir. 1990) (citations
omitted). General principles of contract interpretation apply
when determining whether a clause explicitly waives the right
of removal. In re Delta America Re Ins. Co., 900
F.2d 890, 892 (6th Cir. 1990). Consequently, the language
being interpreted should be given its ordinary meaning, the
intent of the parties is relevant, and ambiguities are to be
resolved against the drafter. Id.
Cadle Co. v. Reiner, Reiner & Bendett, P.C., 307
Fed.Appx. 884, 886 (6th Cir. 2009).
not a close call. In the contract, Hughes merely
“agree[d] to the jurisdiction of the Wolfe Circuit
Court[.]” This clause “neither mentions removal
nor sets forth an explicit waiver of that right by”
Defendant. Cadle, 307 Fed.Appx. at 888.
“Indeed, it does not mention any of the defendants at
all.” EBI-Detroit, Inc. v. City of Detroit,
279 Fed.Appx. 340, 347 (6th Cir. 2008). “A clause that
does not even mention either removal or the party seeking to
remove cannot be a clear waiver of removal.”
Id. The agreement almost wholly
contains promises and concessions by Hughes. The Company is
not even a signatory. Certainly, the document does not
purport to address in clear (any) way the removal rights of
Defendant argues, DE #16, at 3-4, an accession to the
jurisdiction of a state court quite obviously does not,
perforce, preclude jurisdiction in a different forum-that is,
simply agreeing to the jurisdiction of a court does not
automatically indicate agreement that the court is the
exclusive ground for litigation. See Cadle,
307 Fed.Appx. at 888 (approving reasoning that a clause that
permitted litigation in a specific state court “does
not provide that venue would not also be proper in a federal
district court”). The contractual language here
manifestly does not establish Wolfe County courts as
“the exclusive forum for the resolution of any claims
that might arise under the contract, ” as Hughes
argues. See DE #20, at 2. Accordingly, the Court
holds that the agreement Hughes signed does not contain a
“clear and unequivocal” waiver of Defendant's
right to remove. See Regis, 894 F.2d at 195. Remand
is thus inappropriate.
the Court DENIES DE #15.
 The agreement defines
“Activity” as “any adventure, sport or
activity associated with a ‘zip line,'
‘canopy tour,' and/or fitness training regimens and
equipment[.]” DE #15-2, at 1. Hughes does not ...