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Claudio-de Leon v. Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

December 22, 2014

ROSANA CLAUDIO-DE LEÓN; LUIS F. CARRASQUILLO-RIVERA; CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP CARRASQUILLO-CLAUDIO, Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
SISTEMA UNIVERSITARIO ANA G. MÉNDEZ; UNIVERSIDAD DEL ESTE; EVELYN AYALA, in her official and personal capacity; JOHN DOE; CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP DOE-AYALA; LITZ PRÍNCIPE, in her official and personal capacity; JAMES DOE; CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP DOE-PRÍNCIPE; ALBERTO MALDONADO; JOSÉ Méndez, Defendants, Appellees

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. Carmen Consuelo Cerezo, U.S. District Judge.

Saulo Abad Vélez-Rí os, with whom Vélez & Sepú lveda, P.S.C. was on brief, for appellants.

Edgar Hernández-Sánchez, with whom Victoria D. Pierce-King and Cancio, Nadal, Rivera & Díaz, P.S.C. were on brief, for appellee.

Before Torruella and Lipez, Circuit Judges, Gelpí ,[*] District Judge.

OPINION

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TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs-Appellants Rosana Claudio-de León (" Claudio" ), Luis F. Carrasquillo-Rivera (" Carrasquillo" ), and the conjugal partnership Carrasquillo-Claudio (collectively, " Appellants" ) appeal the dismissal of Claudio's Title VII pregnancy and sex discrimination claim and Appellants' supplemental state law claims due to a forum selection clause contained in the employment contracts between Claudio and the University of the East of the Ana G. Méndez University System (" SUAGM" by its Spanish acronym) which precludes adjudication in federal court. On appeal, Appellants argue that: (1) the forum selection clause was not triggered because SUAGM failed to participate in mandatory " constructive negotiations conducted in good faith between the parties" ; (2) Appellees[1] waived enforcement of the forum selection clause due to their delay in raising the issue before the district court; and (3) even if the district court was correct in enforcing the forum selection clause, the dismissal should have been without prejudice. Though we disagree with Appellants and find the forum selection clause applicable and enforceable, we agree that the district court should have dismissed the case without prejudice. We therefore affirm the district court but modify the judgment to expressly permit re-filing in the appropriate forum.

I. Background

On February 15, 2008, Claudio was hired by the SUAGM School of Continuing Education.

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The employment contract, which was for a fixed term, was extended on four separate occasions, each for approximately six months. The final two extensions -- covering August 3 through December 31, 2009, and January 7 through July 31, 2010, respectively -- contained the following provision:

THIRTEENTH: Any dispute which arises between the parties and which cannot be resolved or surmounted by constructive negotiations conducted in good faith between the parties shall be submitted to the jurisdiction and competence of the Court of First Instance of the ...

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