Respondents sued Petitioner in Washington for negligently causing them harm. Petitioner moved to enforce the forum-selection clause mandating the lawsuit be brought in Florida.
Forum-selection clauses included on tickets are enforceable so long as they are reasonable and fair.
Eulala and Russell Shute (Respondents) brought suit in the Western District of Washington against Carnival Cruise Lines (Petitioner), arguing that Petitioner negligently caused Eulala’s injury on the cruise ship. Petitioner moved to enforce the forum-selection clause included in the Respondents tickets requiring lawsuits be brought in Florida.
Is the forum-selection clause enforceable?
Yes, the forum-selection clause is enforceable. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed.
The Court disagreed with the lower court that a forum-selection clauses on a ticket is always unenforceable because it was not negotiated. Under a reasonableness analysis, the Court determined that it was reasonable for the Petitioner to have included a forum-selection clause on all tickets because the nature of its business takes it to many locations, the clause could help prevent confusion and wasted time in bringing litigation in the proper forum, and the clause benefits both the Petitioner and its customers by keeping the price of the ticket low.