Dallas Court of Appeals Enforces Forum Selection Clause in Employment Contract

/cdklawyers.com// 03/23/2010
The Court of Appeals located in Dallas, Texas recently enforced a forum selection clause contained in an employment agreement.  Godenick v. Mannatech, Inc., No. 05-09-00269-CV (Tex. App.—Dallas March 3, 2010, no pet. h.), available at http://www.5thcoa.courts.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/as_web.exe?c05_10.ask+D+4781377.  In the employment agreement, the parties agreed to exclusive venue and personal jurisdiction in Dallas County, Texas for the resolution of any claim.  The agreement also contained a non-solicitation clause to prevent the employee from soliciting the company’s employees to join another venture.

Following the employee’s termination, she allegedly breached the non-solicitation provision, and the company sued.  The employee filed a special appearance claiming that she was a South Carolina resident and that she was not subject to service of process in Texas.  The trial court denied the special appearance.

On appeal, the Court upheld this denial.  A valid and enforceable forum selection clause will support the denial of a special appearance.  Here, evidence showed that the contract contained a mandatory venue clause and a non-solicitation clause.  The employer’s claims arose from the contract and, because the employee failed to show that the contract was invalid for reasons of fraud or that its enforcement would be unreasonable or would contravene public policy, the Court held that the forum selection clause should be enforced.

To speak to Dallas attorneys who regularly draft and negotiate employment agreements, please contact the Texas employment lawyers at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at [email protected].

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