Legal Memorandum: Forum Non Conveniens Motion

Issue: What is the burden of proof for dismissal based on forum non conveniens in Delaware?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Forum non conveniens; Burden of proof; Dismissal
Jurisdiction: Delaware
Cited Cases: 669 A.2d 104; 689 A.2d 1196; 729 A.2d 832; 198 A.2d 681
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 08/01/2000

“Delaware courts consistently uphold a plaintiff’s choice of forum except in rare cases.”  Taylor v. LSI Logic Corp., 689 A.2d 1196, 1198 (Del. 1997).  To prevail on a forum non conveniens motion, the defendant “must establish with particularity that [it] will be subjected to overwhelming hardship and inconvenience if required to litigate in Delaware.  Id. at 1199 (emphasis added).  When no related litigation is pending elsewhere, judicial discretion should be exercised sparingly.  Id.   Recent Delaware Supreme Court opinions trace Delaware law in more detail.  See Ison v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 729 A.2d 832, 837-38  (Del 1999); Chrysler First Bus. Credit Corp. v. 1500 Locust Ltd. Partnership, 669 A.2d 104, 107 (Del. 1995).  

In determining the motion, courts consider the factors set forth in General Foods Corp. v. Cryo-Maid, Inc., 198 A.2d 681 (Del. 1964), including, inter alia, (1) the relative ease of access to proof, (2) the availability of compulsory process for witnesses, (3) whether the controversy depends on principles of Delaware law, (4) whether similar actions are pending in another jurisdiction, and (5) any other problem that affects the ease, expediency and expense of trial.  See Taylor, 689 A.2d at 1198-99.  Even if all these factors balance in a defendant’s favor, however, the motion must be denied unless the defendant proves that severe inconvenience and hardship will result.  Chrysler First, 669 A.2d at 105.  The supreme court has noted, in denying […]

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