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Overriding a Massachusetts Forum-Selection Clause, SJC Affirms Judge Salinger’s Dismissal of a Company’s Case against a Former Employee 

Last summer, Judge Salinger ruled in Oxford Global Resources, LLC v. Hernandez that a plaintiff employer’s litigation against a former employee belonged in California, not Massachusetts. The defendant was employed in California by the plaintiff, which is headquartered in Massachusetts. Judge Salinger dismissed the case on forum non conveniens grounds—despite the presence of a Massachusetts choice of law provision and a Massachusetts forum selection provision in the employment agreement.

We blogged about Judge Salinger’s decision here.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Judge Salinger’s decision. Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote for the SJC:

We conclude that the Massachusetts choice of law provision in the agreement is not enforceable, where California substantive law would apply under our choice of law principles, and where the application of Massachusetts substantive law would violate the fundamental public policy of California favoring open competition and employee mobility. We also conclude that the Massachusetts forum selection provision in the agreement does not bar the employee from moving to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens. Finally, we conclude that the judge did not abuse his discretion in deciding, after consideration of the relevant private and public concerns, that in the interest of substantial justice this action should be dismissed on the ground of forum non conveniens so that the case can be resolved in a California court.

The SJC’s slip opinion is here.

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