Forum selection clauses contained in form passage contracts are enforceable as long as they pass judicial scrutiny for fundamental fairness.
Respondent spouses were residents of the State of Washington, and they boarded petitioner's ship in California. Respondent wife was injured while the ship was in international waters off the coast of Mexico. Respondents filed an action in the U.S. District Court in Washington, which granted petitioner's motion for summary judgment, since the contract between respondents and petitioner provided that all suits were to be brought in Florida. The appellate court reversed the order granting summary judgment.
Is the choice of forum provision enforceable?
There was no indication that the cruise line set Florida as the forum in bad faith. They were not discouraging passengers from pursuing legitimate claims. The cruise line had its principal place of business in Florida and many of its cruises depart from and return to Florida ports. The passengers were given notice of the forum provision and had the option of rejecting the contract. Thus, the choice of forum provision passes judicial scrutiny and is enforceable.