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The Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co.

United States Supreme Court
407 U.S. 1 (1972)


Facts

Zapata Off-Shore Company (Zapata) (plaintiff) was a United States corporation. Zapata contracted with Unterweser (defendant), a German corporation, to tow Zapata’s drilling rig, the Chaparral, from Louisiana to Italy. During the voyage, a severe storm in the Gulf of Mexico caused serious damage to the Chaparral. Zapata instructed Unterweser’s ship, the Bremen, to tow the Chaparral to a port in Tampa, Florida. Zapata filed suit in federal district court in Florida against Unterweser. Unterweser moved to dismiss the complaint based on the contract’s forum-selection clause, which selected the London Court of Justice as the exclusive forum. The district court denied Unterweser’s motion. Unterweser appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

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Dissent (Douglas, J.)

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