Lauro Lines s.r.l. v. Chasser Case Brief

Why is the case important?

“The Petitioner, Lauro Lines s.r.l. (Petitioner), moved to dismiss an action filed against it by victims of the hijacking of one of its airplanes, citing a forum selection clause printed on the plane tickets requiring litigants to pursue all claims against it in Italy.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An order denying a motion to dismiss a civil action on the ground that a contractual forum selection clause requires that such suit be brought in another jurisdiction is not appealable under the final judgment rule, because it is not a decision on the merits that ends the litigation.”

Facts of the case

Question

Whether an interlocutory order of a district court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to dismiss a damages action on the basis of a contractual forum-selection clause is immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C. Section: 1291 as a collateral final order.

Answer

No. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Second Circuit. Title 28 U.S.C. Section: 1291 provides for appeals to the courts of appeal only from final decisions of the district courts of the United States. A final judgment is generally regarded as a decision by the district court that ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment. An order denying a motion to dismiss a civil action on the ground that a contractual forum selection clause requires that such suit be brought in another jurisdiction is not a decision on the merits that ends the litigation. Concurrence. Justice Antonin Scalia (J. Scalia) concurred. J. Scalia wrote separately merely to point out that the right of Petitioner to not be sued outside Italy was not sufficiently important to overcome the policies militating against interlocutory appeals.

Conclusion

The United States Supreme Court ruled that the court of appeals properly dismissed the appeal. The Court noted that 28 U.S.C.S. § 1291 permitted an appeal only if an order denying a motion to dismiss based upon a forum-selection clause fell within the collateral order doctrine. The Court noted that the district court’s orders failed to satisfy the third requirement of the collateral order test in that such orders had to be effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment. The Court stated that the cruise line’s claim that it could be sued only in Naples, while not perfectly secured by appeal after final judgment, was adequately vindicable at that stage.

  • Case Brief: 1989
  • Petitioner: Lauro Lines s.r.l.
  • Respondent: Chasser
  • Decided by: Rehnquist Court

Citation: 490 US 495 (1989)
Argued: Apr 17, 1989
Decided: May 22, 1989