In a victory for construction subcontractors, the U.S. Supreme Court preserved the 24 state laws limiting the validity of forum-selection clauses in construction contracts in its ruling on Dec. 3 in Atlantic Marine Construction Co., Inc. v. United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, et al.
ASA filed an amicus brief in the case, telling the Supreme Court that a poor decision “… would compel federal courts to disregard: (1) the law of the state where the Project was located, and (2) the legitimate policy concerns those laws were designed to address.”
The Court stated that when a federal court considers the forum for a case, “the court should not consider the parties’ private interests aside from those embodied in the forum-selection clause; it may consider only public interests.”
“These ‘public interests’ most certainly would include the laws in the 24 states that limit the use of forum-selection clauses in construction,” said ASA Chief Advocacy Officer E. Colette Nelson. “That is, when determining whether a forum-selection clause is valid and should be enforced, a court can and, perhaps, should take into consideration public interest, as defined by the state legislatures.”