Vandeventer Black partner, Michael L. Sterling, was part of the winning team before the United States Supreme Court on the important issue of enforcing forum selection clauses in contracts. On December 3, 2013, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Atlantic Marine Construction Company, Inc. (AMC) a family owned and operated Virginia contractor. AMC had entered into a subcontract with J-Crew Management, Inc., for work on a federal construction project in Texas. When a dispute arose, J-Crew filed suit in Texas, even though the subcontract required that all disputes between the parties would be litigated in Virginia. AMC moved to dismiss or transfer the case to Virginia, but these motions were denied by the federal district court and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Supreme Court reversed the rulings of the lower courts, enforcing the forum-selection clause through the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The Supreme Court made clear the importance of “holding parties to their bargain,” and ruled that “a forum-selection clause [should] be given controlling weight in all but the most exceptional circumstances.” This is a very important decision for many types of businesses in today’s economy who are drawn to new markets and must be able to evaluate risk.
Find a copy of the opinion here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/slipopinions.aspx. Michael L. Sterling is a partner in the firm’s Construction and Public Contracts Department, and a member of the firm’s Executive Board. We congratulate Mike and the entire team who prevailed on behalf of Atlantic Marine Construction Company, Inc. www.vanblk.com.
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