Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Case for Forum Non Conveniens, Finding Mexico to be an Adequate and Available Alternative Forum
In Saqui v. Pride Central America LLC, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's order dismissing Plaintiff's claims for forum non conveniens, finding that Mexico was an adequate and available alternative forum to the Southern District of Texas. Docket No. 08-41059 (5th Cir. Jan. 21, 2010).
Saqui involved the death of a Mexican citizen in Mexican waters while working on board an oil rig owned by Appellee Pride Central America ("PCA"), a Delaware company operating in Mexico, and being chartered by a Mexican oil company. Appellant commenced suit against PCA in the Southern District of Texas, alleging that PCA failed to provide a safe workplace. Upon PCA's motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens, PCA stated that it would submit to the jurisdiction of the Mexican courts. After various motion practice, the District Court ultimately granted PCA's motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds, and provided that the court would resume jurisdiction if the Mexican court did not accept the case.
On appeal, Appellant argued, inter alia, that the district court erred in granting PCA's motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens. In reviewing the district court's decision, the Fifth Circuit noted that to dismiss a case for forum non conveniens, there must be another forum that can hear the case that is both available (i.e. - "the entire case and all parties can come within the jurisdiction of that forum") and adequate (i.e. - "the parties will not be deprived of all remedies or treated unfairly."). If such an alternative forum exists, various private and public interest factors must also be weighed, including but not limited to access to evidence, availability of witnesses, court congestion, and avoiding unnecessary problems in the application of foreign law.
Upon consideration of the relevant factors, the Fifth Circuit concluded that the court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Appellant's suit for forum non conveniens. The Court found that Mexico was an available forum since PCA had agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the Mexican courts. Similarly, the Court found that the district court had thoroughly addressed each of the errors alleged by Appellant on appeal and carefully considered the private and public interest factors which, it found, weighed strongly in favor of dismissal.
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