Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute

Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. V. Shute

Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute

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Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585 (1991), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that United States federal courts will enforce forum selection clauses so long as the clause is not unreasonably burdensome to the party seeking to escape it.


The plaintiffs, Eulala and Russel Shute, were passengers on a cruise ship operated by the defendant, Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. The Shutes had bought tickets in Washington and signed a contract, with a forum selection clause mandating that injured parties would sue in Florida, to the exclusion of all other jurisdictions. The plaintiffs boarded the cruise in California, and one was injured in international waters off the coast of Mexico. The plaintiffs then filed a lawsuit in Washington, in violation of the contract clause.

The defendant sought summary judgment based on:
  1. the forum selection clause, and
  2. a lack of minimum contacts between the defendant and the forum state
The trial court dismissed based solely on the lack of sufficient contacts. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed because the cruise line had reached into Washington via advertising, and held that but for the defendant's solicitation, there would be no cause of action. The Court of Appeals also held that forum selection clause was void because of unequal bargaining power between the parties, and because it would be an undue hardship for the Shutes to have to go all the way to Florida to sue....
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