Texas Supreme Court Holds Jury Waiver Enforceable

On March 9, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in In Re Frank Motor Company, which held that a long time employee who signed a jury waiver agreement was not entitled to have it set aside because he was coerced into signing it by his employer.

In this case, a long-time employee (“Employee”) signed a Jury Trial Waiver only after his supervisor threatened to fire him if he did not sign it.  Employee claimed that he only signed the Jury Trial Waiver to avoid losing his job of twenty-eight years.   Almost a year after signing the Jury Trial Waiver, Employee was terminated.  Employee then brought an action against his employer (“Employer”) for age discrimination.   The trial court denied Employer’s Motion to Strike Employee’s Demand for Jury Trial and Employer subsequently filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus to Compel Enforcement of the Jury Trial Waiver.

The Texas Supreme Court held that Employer’s threat to exercise its right to terminate Employee could not amount to coercion that would invalidate the Jury Trial Waiver.  As such, the Texas Supreme Court directed the trial court to grant Employer’s Motion to Strike Employee’s Jury Demand.