Venue Selection Provisions in Construction Contracts

What kind of claims are subject to venue selection provisions in construction contracts?

In Fairbank Contracting and Remodeling v. Hopcroft, the Fourth District Court of Appeal, held that all claims that have “a significant relationship and clear nexus with the contract” are subject to a venue selection provision.  40 Fla. L. Weekly D1637a (Fla. 4th DCA July 15, 2015).

In this case, Fairbanks Contracting entered into a construction contract with Hopcroft to remodel a bathroom.  The construction contract stated that Marion County would serve as the venue for “any proceeding relating to the contract”.  Hopcroft sued Fairbanks for violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), and not for breach of contract.  Hopcroft alleged that through conduct, Fairbanks violated FDUTPA in its work on the project.

The trial court denied Fairbanks motion to dismiss or transfer venue pursuant to the venue selection provision in the construction contract.  On Appeal, the Fourth District reversed holding that there was a significant and obvious nexus between the claim and the construction contract.  The court held that whether the venue selection provision will apply to a FDUTPA claim depends on the violations alleged and the language in the venue selection provision.  The Fourth District in this case found such a nexus and transferred the case to Marion County.