Legal Memorandum: Dismissal on Forum Non Conveniens Grounds

Issue: Whether a complaint can be dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds in the Jurisdiction of High Court of the Marshall Islands.

Area of Law: Admiralty & Maritime Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Forum non conveniens; Alternative forum; Grounds for dismissal
Jurisdiction: Federal, Florida, Marshall Islands
Cited Cases: 330 U.S. 501; 245 F.3d 403; 981 F.2d 824
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2012

The burden is on the defendant to prove all the elements of forum non conveniens.  In re air Crash Disaster Near New Orleans, 821 F.2d 1147, 1164 (5th Cir. 1987).  There is a strong presumption in favor of a plaintiff’s choice of forum.  Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508 (1947).  A multi-step analysis is required.  “If the moving party carries its burden of establishing an alternate forum that is both adequate and available, then the defendant is charged with showing that dismissal is warranted because certain private and public interest factors weigh in favor of dismissal.”  Mclennan v. Am. Eurocopter Corp., 245 F.3d 403, 424 (5th Cir. 2011). 

An alternative forum is available when the entire case and all the parties can come within the jurisdiction of that forum.  Baumgart v. Fairchild Aircraft Corp.  981 F.2d 824, 835 (5th Cir. 1993). 

An alternative forum is adequate when the parties will not be deprived of all remedies or treated unfairly.  Id. at 835. 

The private interest factors relevant to a forum non conveniens analysis are: (1) ease of access to evidence; (2) the availability of compulsory process for the attendance of unwilling witnesses; (3) the cost of obtaining attendance of willing witnesses; (4) the possibility of a view of the premises, if appropriate; and (5) any other practicable factors that make trial expeditious and inexpensive.  Gulf Oil, 330 U.S. at 506-07.