Petersen v. Boeing Co., 2013 WL 1776975 (9th Cir. 2013)

Robin P. Petersen, a former Navy pilot, was recruited to work in Saudi Arabia as a flight instructor for Boeing. Prior to his departure, Petersen signed a preliminary employment agreement that did not contain a forum selection clause; however, once he arrived in Saudi Arabia, he was forced to sign a second employment agreement that contained a forum selection clause requiring that any contractual disputes between the parties be resolved in the "Labor Courts of Saudi Arabia." Petersen submitted evidence that his work environment in Saudi Arabia was "marked by rampant safety and ethics violations." When he returned to the United States, he brought suit against Boeing, alleging breach of contract and several statutory and common law claims. The district court granted Boeing's motion to dismiss the action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) for improper venue, holding that the proper venue for Petersen's lawsuit was Saudi Arabia. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of Petersen's lawsuit on the ground that he had provided specific evidence that he would be "wholly foreclosed from litigating his claims against Boeing in a Saudi forum." The Court further held that the district court erred by not granting Petersen's request to amend his pleadings to allege "additional facts that should have dispelled any lingering doubt the district court might have had as to whether an evidentiary hearing, at the least, was needed."