Lifeco Services Corp. v. Superior Court – Case Brief Summary (California)

In Lifeco Services Corp. v. Superior Court (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 331, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court should have granted the petitioners' motion to dismiss or stay the real party in interest's cross-action against them, based on forum selection clauses calling for exclusive venue in Texas, even though the petitioners had begun the lawsuit in California to obtain injunctive relief against the real party in interest. (Id. at p. 333.)

The real party in interest had threatened to prevent Lifeco employees from having access to certain business premises in California, and threatened to otherwise prevent the employees from servicing certain accounts. After the petitioners obtained a temporary restraining order, the real party in interest filed a cross-complaint seeking over $22 million in damages, and the petitioners then moved to dismiss or stay the cross-complaint because of the forum selection clauses in the parties' agreements. (Id. at pp. 333-334.)

The Court of Appeal found the petitioners had not waived the benefit of the forum selection clause, concluding that "Lifeco's response to a perceived emergency is not a legally sufficient circumstance to overcome the rules favoring enforcement of forum selection clauses." (Lifeco, supra, 222 Cal.App.3d at pp. 336-337; see id. at p. 337 "The record compels a finding that petitioners in good faith filed the preliminary action in California on the basis of perceived necessity. Their action is not a waiver of their right to a Texas forum to settle the broader dispute among the parties which touches on all aspects of their relationship.".)