The Venue Shuffle: Forum Selection Clauses & ERISA

Abstract

Forum selection clauses are ubiquitous. Although the federal courts traditionally were hostile to agreements limiting a plaintiff’s venue options, recently the tide has turned. The lower courts now routinely enforce such clauses. This Article challenges this recent trend in the special context of ERISA cases. The article mines ERISA’s statutory text, legislative history, and historical context and provides an in-depth exploration of ERISA’s distinctive policy goal of providing employees “ready access” to the federal courts. The Article then explains how forum selection clauses undermine this goal and thus should be invalid under controlling Supreme Court jurisprudence.

By LRIRE