Outbound Forum-Selection Clause

Ex parte Sunset Digital Communications, Inc., [Ms. SC-2022-0422, Dec. 2, 2022] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2022). The Court (Wise, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin, Shaw, Bryan, Sellers, Mendheim, and Stewart, JJ., concur; Mitchell, J., recuses) grants Sunset Digital Communications, Inc.’s (“Sunset”), petition for a writ of mandamus and directs the Lee Circuit Court to dismiss the action pursuant to an outbound forum-selection clause.

The Court rejects the plaintiffs’ argument that the phrase “may be instituted” rendered the clause permissive rather than mandatory and explains

Immediately after that portion of the forum-selection clause, in the very same sentence, the clause continues by providing that “each party irrevocably submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of such courts in any such suit, action, or proceeding.” (Emphasis added.) …. [T]he phrase “may be instituted in the federal courts of the United States of America or the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia in each case located in the City of Bristol, Virginia,” merely makes clear that the party commencing an action may choose whether to litigate the action in either federal or state court in Bristol, Virginia.

Ms. **18-19.

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