The Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co. - 407 U.S. 1 (1972)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1 (1972)
The Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co.
Argued March 21, 1972
Decided June 12, 1972
407 U.S. 1
Petitioner Unterweser made an agreement to tow respondent's drilling rig from Louisiana to Italy. The contract contained a forum-selection clause providing for the litigation of any dispute in the High Court of Justice in London. When the rig under tow was damaged in a storm, respondent instructed Unterweser to tow the rig to Tampa, the nearest port of refuge. There, respondent brought suit in admiralty against petitioners. Unterweser invoked the forum clause in moving for dismissal for want of jurisdiction and brought suit in the English court, which ruled that it had jurisdiction under the contractual forum provision. The District Court, relying on Carbon Black Export, Inc. v. The Monrosa, 254 F. 2d 297, held the forum-selection clause unenforceable, and refused to decline jurisdiction on the basis of forum non conveniens. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: The forum-selection clause, which was a vital part of the towing contract, is binding on the parties unless respondent can meet the heavy burden of showing that its enforcement would be unreasonable, unfair, or unjust. Pp. 407 U. S. 8-20
428 F. 2d 888 and 446 F. 2d 907, vacated and remanded.
BURGER, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a concurring statement, post, p. 407 U. S. 20. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 407 U. S. 20.