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Atl. Marine Constr. Co. v. United States Dist. Court

Supreme Court of the United States

October 9, 2013, Argued; December 3, 2013, Decided

No. 12-929

Opinion

 [*52]  Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question in this case concerns the procedure that is available for a defendant in a civil case who seeks to enforce a forum-selection clause. We reject petitioner’s argument that such a clause may be enforced by a motion to dismiss under 28 U.S.C. §1406(a) or Rule 12(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Instead, a forum-selection clause may be enforced by a motion to transfer under §1404(a) (2006 ed., Supp. V), which provides that “[f ]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” When a defendant files such a motion, we conclude, a district court should transfer the case unless extraordinary circumstances unrelated to the convenience of the parties clearly  [****8] disfavor a transfer. In the present case, both the District Court and the Court of Appeals misunderstood the standards to be applied in adjudicating a §1404(a) motion in a case involving a forum-selection clause, and we therefore reverse the judgment below.

 [***495]  I

Petitioner Atlantic Marine Construction Co., a Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in Virginia,  [*53]  entered into a contract with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to construct a child-development center at Fort Hood in the Western District of Texas. Atlantic Marine then entered into a subcontract with respondent J-Crew Management, Inc., a Texas corporation, for work on the project. This subcontract included a forum-selection clause, which stated that all disputes between the parties “‘shall be litigated in the Circuit Court for the City of Norfolk, Virginia, or the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.’” In re Atlantic Marine Constr. Co., 701 F. 3d 736, 737-738 (CA5 2012).

 [**576]  When a dispute about payment under the subcontract arose, however, J-Crew sued Atlantic Marine in the Western District of Texas, invoking that court’s diversity jurisdiction. Atlantic Marine  [****9] moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the forum-selection clause rendered venue in the Western District of Texas “wrong” under §1406(a) and “improper” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3). In the alternative, Atlantic Marine moved to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia under §1404(a). J-Crew opposed these motions.

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571 U.S. 49 *; 134 S. Ct. 568 **; 187 L. Ed. 2d 487 ***; 2013 U.S. LEXIS 8775 ****; 82 U.S.L.W. 4021; 2014 AMC 1; 87 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 51; 24 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 484; 2013 WL 6231157

ATLANTIC MARINE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC., Petitioner v. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

In re Atl. Marine Constr. Co., 701 F.3d 736, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 23803 (5th Cir. Tex., 2012)

Disposition: 701 F. 3d 736, reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

forum-selection, venue, district court, parties, factors, cases, federal court, witnesses, doctrine of forum non conveniens, contractual, public-interest, quotation, marks, interest of justice, convenience of the parties, motion to transfer, judicial district, civil action, file suit, clauses, sitting, forum non conveniens, motion to dismiss, improper venue, venue statute, choice-of-law, inconvenience, limitations, nonfederal, invoke

Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Forum Selection Clauses, Civil Procedure, Venue, Federal Venue Transfers, Convenience Transfers, Improper Venue Transfers, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Preliminary Considerations, General Overview, Motions to Transfer, Choice of Forum, Forum Non Conveniens, Convenience of Parties, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, Erie Doctrine