UT law professor argues before U.S. Supreme Court

Anna Daugherty

William Allensworth, attorney and adjunct law professor at UT, argued Wednesday before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving contract law and legal forum selection.

Allensworth argued on the side of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas as a representative of J-Crew Management, Inc. 

In 2009, the Atlantic Marine Construction Co. hired J-Crew to provide materials and work for the construction of a children’s center in Fort Hood. After the project’s completion, J-Crew sued in a federal court in Austin for more than $160,000 the company claimed it was still owed. 

Atlantic Marine contested the jurisdiction of the lawsuit because of a contractual agreement that all litigation should be pursued in Virginia.

Allensworth argued the lawsuit should be handled in Texas courts because the bulk of work performed took place in Texas, so Texas courts seemed the logical selection for legal arbitration.

“[The western district of Texas] is where we performed our work, where the project’s located, where all the witnesses reside and where virtually all of the evidence is located,” Allensworth told the justices, according to a transcript of oral argument released by the Court.

Justice Elena Kagan expressed skepticism, saying both parties in a lawsuit must adhere to a pre-negotiated forum, even if another forum seems more convenient.

“[You had] a negotiated contract, that you accepted in convenience, and … you got something for your … acceptance of inconvenience,” Kagan said. “The end. You have to live with your contract.”

Allensworth will know the decision in the case by early July, when the justices announce decisions from the October oral arguments.