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Civil Procedure – venue

U.S. Supreme Court


Civil Procedure – venue — forum selection clauses

A forum-selection clause may be enforced by a motion to transfer under 28 U.S.C. §1404(a), which provides that “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.”

Section 1406(a) and Rule 12(b)(3) allow dismissal only when venue is “wrong” or “improper.” Whether venue is “wrong” or “improper” depends exclusively on whether the court in which the case was brought satisfies the requirements of federal venue laws. Title 28 U. S. C. §1391, which governs venue generally, states that “[e]xcept as otherwise provided by law . . . this section shall govern the venue of all civil actions brought in” federal district courts. §1391(a)(1). It then defines districts in which venue is proper. See §1391(b). If a case falls within one of §1391(b)’s districts, venue is proper; if it does not, venue is improper, and the case must be dismissed or transferred under §1406(a). Whether the parties’ contract contains a forum-selection clause has no bearing on whether a case falls into one of the specified districts. This conclusion is confirmed by the structure of the federal venue provisions, which reflects Congress’ intent that venue should always lie in some federal court whenever federal courts have personal jurisdiction over the defendant. See §1391(b)(3). The conclusion also follows from this Court’s decisions construing the federal venue statutes. See Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U. S. 612; Stewart Organization, Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U. S. 22.

701 F. 3d 736, reversed and remanded.

12-929 Atlantic Marine Construction Co., Inc., v. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

Alito, J.

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