Welcome to part 3 of this series! To recap, parts 1 and 2 discussed the difference between specific personal jurisdiction and general personal jurisdiction, where the parties to a lawsuit are from different states. Part 2 also showed photos from traveling in Manzanillo, Mexico.
In Part 3; for the travel part of this post, I will show some photos from Mazatlan, Mexico. Then, in the legal part of this post, I will discuss the role that venue plays in determining where a lawsuit will take place, when the parties come from different states. “Venue” simply means where a lawsuit will be heard by a judge (litigated).
For the travel part:
Our third stop in our Mexico trip was Mazatlan, where we hiked the hill to the top of the El Faro Lighthouse, and took in some amazing views at the top:
Now, turning to the legal part of this post, and the first half of a discussion about venue. (The question of venue comes up in addition to jurisdiction, the requirements of which must also be satisfied.)
When different parties to a lawsuit live far apart, each party will naturally prefer to have the lawsuit heard in a court close to their home, rather than in a distant court. This is for reasons including convenience, avoiding travel costs, and the home team advantage (which is a big deal in law as well as in sports).
This is where the question of venue comes up.
Ever read a Terms of Service Agreement (or similar)? If so, you may have noticed that it includes a provision about venue, in the event of a legal dispute between you and that company. Chances are, the company who wrote the TOS chose a venue which is a lot more convenient for them than it is for you. They want to make you promise to agree to their preferred venue in case a lawsuit happens. This is known as a “forum selection clause”.
A forum selection clause may or may not actually be enforceable, and courts can go both ways on deciding the outcome of a venue dispute. The individual facts of a case are also important to the outcome. But even if a forum selection clause is arguable, it would still require expensive litigation to fight it – before the merits of an underlying case have even been looked at. Therefore, anyone signing an agreement with a forum selection clause, should be prepared to likely be bound by it.
So, the forum selection clause can be one way to determine venue.
There are also a few other ways for a court to have proper venue, if there is no previous agreement: Venue is proper for a court if (1) The court is in a state in which all defendants reside (if they all reside in the same state); or (2) The court is in a state where a substantial part of the events giving rise to the lawsuit took place; or if all else fails, (3) The court is in a state where any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction, if there is no other jurisdiction where venue would be proper.
I will further illustrate #2 of the above paragraph in the upcoming part 4 of this series. Stay tuned!
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Please note that the above is offered for educational purposes, and as a means of encouraging intellectual curiosity about the law. The information presented may not take into account every exception, variation, or complication which could apply to someone’s legal matters. Accordingly, nothing in this post or blog is ever intended as, nor should be construed by or relied upon by anyone, as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney who can give you assistance specific to your needs.