Allensworth & Porter, an Austin-based construction law firm, will argue before the United States Supreme Court next month in the case of In re Atl. Marine Const. Co., Inc., 701 F.3d 736 (5th Cir. 2012) cert. granted, 12-929, 2013 WL 1285318 (U.S. Apr. 1, 2013).
Senior Partner William R. Allensworth will present the case in front of the Supreme Court on Wed., Oct. 9, 2013.
“The Supreme Court’s decision will resolve a split in authority among the country’s Circuit Courts over the proper procedural mechanism to enforce forum-selection clauses,” Allensworth said. “This case could have a profound impact on the use and effect of these clauses throughout the construction industry. This is an important issue, and we are honored to participate in it.”
The case involves J-Crew Management, Inc., a subcontractor on a construction project located at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. When the contractor refused to pay J-Crew for work it had completed, J-Crew’s attorneys, Allensworth & Porter, L.L.P., filed suit against the contractor in federal district court in Austin.
The contractor demanded that the case be transferred to Virginia, claiming that a forum-selection clause in the subcontract required all disputes to be heard there. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel refused to transfer the case, noting that the project and most of the project documentation were located in Texas, and that virtually all of the witnesses lived in Texas and would be unavailable to testify if the case were transferred to Virginia.
The contractor filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to overturn Judge Yeakel’s ruling. The Fifth Circuit, in a precedent-setting opinion on the enforcement of forum-selection clauses, denied the Petition. The contractor then filed a Petition for Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which has set the case for hearing during the October 2013 Term.
“Preparation for a case of this magnitude is a full-firm commitment, but we are well structured to take this on and eager to go to Washington,” Allensworth said.