The Indulgence of Reasonable Presumptions: Federal Court Contractual Civil Jury Trial Waivers

Large institutions such as banks, franchisers, international companies, and lessors distrust juries’ ability to properly resolve disputes and award reasonable damages. As a result, these and other actors have attempted to limit juries’ potential influence on the contracts to which they are parties. They have done so through contractual jury trial waiver clauses in these agreements. The Seventh Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the jury trial right. Whether the right is determined to exist in an individual instance is a matter of federal common law, which merely preserves the jury trial right as it existed when the Amendment was adopted in 1791. Although the Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial, it does not mandate one. As with other constitutional rights, this right may be waived.