Nebraska Revised Statute 25-415
Choice of forum in another state; action pending in this state; procedure.
If the parties have agreed in writing that an action on a controversy shall be brought only in another state and it is brought in a court of this state, the court will dismiss or stay the action, as appropriate, unless (1) the court is required by statute to entertain the action; (2) the plaintiff cannot secure effective relief in the other state, for reasons other than delay in bringing the action; (3) the other state would be a substantially less convenient place for the trial of the action than this state; (4) the agreement as to the place of the action was obtained by misrepresentation, duress, the abuse of economic power, or other unconscionable means; or (5) it would for some other reason be unfair or unreasonable to enforce the agreement.
- Laws 1969, c. 179, § 3, p. 769.
A forum is seriously inconvenient only if one party would be effectively deprived of a meaningful day in court. Polk Cty. Rec. Assn. v. Susquehanna Patriot Leasing, 273 Neb. 1026, 734 N.W.2d 750 (2007).
A forum selection clause can be avoided for fraud only when the fraud relates to procurement of the forum selection clause itself, standing independently from the remainder of the agreement. Polk Cty. Rec. Assn. v. Susquehanna Patriot Leasing, 273 Neb. 1026, 734 N.W.2d 750 (2007).
A party seeking to avoid a contractual forum selection clause bears a heavy burden of showing that the clause should not be enforced, and, accordingly, the party seeking to avoid the forum selection clause bears the burden of proving that one of the statutory exceptions applies. Polk Cty. Rec. Assn. v. Susquehanna Patriot Leasing, 273 Neb. 1026, 734 N.W.2d 750 (2007).
Aside from factual findings, a ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to this section is subject to de novo review. Where the trial court's decision is based upon the complaint and its own determination of disputed factual issues, an appellate court reviews the factual findings under the "clearly erroneous" standard. Polk Cty. Rec. Assn. v. Susquehanna Patriot Leasing, 273 Neb. 1026, 734 N.W.2d 750 (2007).
In the absence of one of the five listed exceptions, this section requires dismissal of an action only when the forum selection clause is mandatory. If the forum selection clause is permissive rather than mandatory, this section does not require dismissal of the Nebraska action. Polk Cty. Rec. Assn. v. Susquehanna Patriot Leasing, 273 Neb. 1026, 734 N.W.2d 750 (2007).
The proper procedure in Nebraska courts for a party to enforce a forum selection clause naming another state as a forum is to file a motion to dismiss pursuant to this section. Polk Cty. Rec. Assn. v. Susquehanna Patriot Leasing, 273 Neb. 1026, 734 N.W.2d 750 (2007).
A forum selection clause which specifically references this section is not contrary to public policy and does not deny courts their inherent authority to consider appropriate matters presented to them. A trial court may refuse to dismiss an action where the facts are consistent with this section's limitations. Woodmen of the World Life Ins. Soc. v. Yelich, 250 Neb. 345, 549 N.W.2d 172 (1996).
A forum selection clause in an insurance contract between a surety and a contractor is enacted in accordance with the statute, and therefor valid, enforceable, and not contrary to public policy. Haakinson & Beaty Co. v. Inland Ins. Co., 216 Neb. 426, 344 N.W.2d 454 (1984).