The general rule is that an order is effectively unreviewable unless the order at issue involves an asserted right the legal and practical value of which would be destroyed if it were not vindicated before trial. The possibility that a ruling may be erroneous and may impose additional litigation expense is not sufficient to set aside the finality requirement in 28 U.S.C.S. § 1291. The right asserted must be one that is essentially destroyed if its vindication must be postponed until trial is completed.
Passengers brought suit against a cruise line in federal district court to recover damages for certain injuries. Subsequently, the district court denied the cruise line's motions to dismiss, holding that the ticket as a whole did not give reasonable notice to passengers that they were waiving the opportunity to sue in a domestic forum. On appeal, the court of appeals dismissed the cruise line's appeal on the ground that the district court's orders were interlocutory and not appealable. The cruise line sought review by writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Are the district court's forum selection orders interlocutory and thus, not subject to appeal?
The United States Supreme Court ruled that the court of appeals properly dismissed the appeal. The Court noted that 28 U.S.C.S. § 1291 permitted an appeal only if an order denying a motion to dismiss based upon a forum-selection clause fell within the collateral order doctrine. The Court noted that the district court's orders failed to satisfy the third requirement of the collateral order test in that such orders had to be effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment. The Court stated that the cruise line's claim that it could be sued only in Naples, while not perfectly secured by appeal after final judgment, was adequately vindicable at that stage.