“Just because I never showed up for class and didn’t turn in any of the work, you’re giving me an F in the course?”

“I know I bet you $500 that the Cubs would win, but how was I to know they’d blow a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth?”

“When the minister asked me if I’d ‘take this woman for better or for worse,’ I thought he was giving me two options.”

Remember when a deal was a deal and contracts meant something?

Nowadays, it seems like a deal’s only a deal until one party decides it doesn’t like the way things turned out. Then, the disappointed party challenges the terms originally agreed to freely, insisting that the terms weren’t fair in the first place, that the implications weren’t apparent at the time, or that subsequent extenuating circumstances rendered the terms invalid.

Take the contract that J.F. Electric of Edwardsville had with HD Supply. HD was to supply steel utility poles, but supposedly failed to meet specifications, so J.F. filed suit against HD in Madison County Circuit Court, alleging breach of contract.

There was only one problem. HD’s corporate headquarters are in Cobb County, Georgia, and the contract specified that “any legal action arising under or related to this Agreement shall be brought in Cobb County, Georgia.”

Invoking the forum-selection clause, HD Supply successfully moved for dismissal – at which point J.F. Electric cried foul and appealed.
The Fifth District Appellate Court has now affirmed the dismissal of the suit.

In its appeal, J.F. argued that the forum-selection clause was unenforceable and invalid, that it was “neither negotiated nor agreed upon” (despite being written into the contract), and that the company was not given “fair notice” of the clause (that was right there in print in the contract).

J.F. can still sue HD, of course. They’ll just have to do it in Cobb County, Georgia – as the contract stipulated.

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