Are you unsure of where to file your case? Have you received a motion for dismissal based on forum non-conveniens (FNC)? What does filing for a dismissal based on forum non-conveniens mean and entail? Under what circumstances can this motion be filed? What are your rights? How can this motion be denied?

What is Forum Non-Conveniens?

In many cases, the plaintiff has the right to choose any court as long as there is a legally recognized connection with the forum. Opposing parties may object to the chosen forum by filing a motion for dismissal based on the doctrine of forum non-conveniens. A grant of this motion by the court effectively removes the case from the originally chosen forum and the plaintiff will have to refile in another location.

The goal of forum non-conveniens is to make sure that the case is heard in the most convenient forum based on the facts of the case. However, filing for dismissal based on forum non-conveniens is often a strategy used by defendants to discourage plaintiffs from pursuing litigation and asserting their rights. This is because it can be an effective delay tactic, prolonging the litigation and negotiation process. Also, in the event that the forum is changed, the plaintiff may be forced to drop his or her case due to prohibitive costs or logistics.

The Test for Forum Non-Conveniens:

In order to prevail on this motion, the moving party must past a two part test:

1. The non-discretionary test: There must be a “suitable” alternative forum;

AND, if and only if the motion passes this test, will the court apply:

2. A discretionary balancing test based on a balancing of public and private interest factors:

The Public factors are:

    1. Court congestion – “Administrative difficulties follow for courts when litigation is piled up in congested centers instead of being handled at its origin;
    2. Jury duty – “Jury duty is a burden that ought not to be imposed upon the people of a community which has no relation to the litigation;”
    3. Local interest – “There is a local interest in having localized controversies decided at home;
    4. Familiarity with law – “There is an appropriateness, too, in having the trial of a diversity case in a forum that is at home with the state law that must govern the case, rather than having a court in some other forum untangle problems in conflict of laws, and in law foreign to itself.

The Private factors are:

    1. Evidence – “Relative ease of access to sources of proof;”
    2. Witnesses – Availability of and cost of obtaining;
    3. View of premises – Possibility of view of premises, if view would be appropriate to the action; and
    4. All other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive.

Case references: Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, (1947); Piper Aircraft v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235 (1981)

If you are facing this issue, or think you may be facing this issue, ALG has successfully opposed forum non conveniens motions in California state court and could provide some valuable guidance to you or your client.

About Adishian Law Group, P.C.

Adishian Law Group is a California law firm with a statewide practice in the areas of Corporate law, Employment law, Real Estate law and Mediation Services. Adishianlaw.com is one of the oldest continually operating law firm websites on the Internet. The firm serves its clientele via three offices located in the major business hubs of El Segundo, Palo Alto and San Francisco. As of March 2013, Adishian Law Group, P.C. has represented individual and corporate clients located across 20 California counties, 4 States outside of California and 9 foreign countries — in over 340 legal matters.

For more information about this topic or to speak with Chris Adishian:

Telephone: 310.726.0888 | 650.646.4022 | 415.955.0888
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