Spotlight on AOL – Common Law. Please do not worry about technical application of the term “stare decisis.” Stare decisis simply means how similar are the present facts to the Supreme Court case. Please keep in mind that there are two lawyers arguing opposite points of view on this issue. That means that there is no “wrong” answer, only better or worse rationale.


AOL, LLC, mistakenly made public the personal information of 650,000 of its members. The members filed a suit, alleging violations of California law. AOL asked the court to dismiss the suit on-the-basis of a “forum-selection clause” in it’s members agreement that designates Virginia courts as the place where member disputes will be tried. Under the decision of the United States Supreme Court, a forum-selection clause is unenforceable “if enforcement would contravene a strong public policy of the forum in which is brought.” California courts have declared in other cases that the AOL clause contravenes a strong public policy. If the court applies the doctrine of stare decisis, will it dismiss the suit? Explain. [Doe v. AOL, LLC, 552 F.3d 1077(9th Cir. 2009) (See The Common Law Tradition.)

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