In July 2006, a large car carrier sailing from Japan to Canada and the U.S., suddenly developed a 65-degree list while in the North Pacific, south of the Aleutian Islands. The vessel was carrying nearly 5000 new Mazda automobiles. It was towed to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where it was righted and then towed to Portland, Oregon. After the cars were removed and inspected in Portland, Mazda declared all of its automobiles to be a total loss, and sued the vessel in the U.S. District Court in Portland, seeking more than $40 million in damages.
KYL filed a motion to dismiss Mazda’s claims, on the grounds that a forum selection clause in the contract of carriage between the vessel’s charterer and Mazda required suit to be brought in Japan. Mazda opposed the motion, arguing that the forum selection clause only applied to claims against the charterer, and did not apply to claims against the vessel. On Aug. 16, 2007, the court entered an order dismissing Mazda’s lawsuit on the grounds that the forum selection clause applied to the suit.