Foreign Country Ruled The Appropriate Forum For Damages Sustained in Dubai (NY)

In Boyle v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed the granting of defendant’s motion to dismiss the action on the basis of forum nonconveniens. The Appellate Division explained that the doctrine of forum nonconveniens allows a court to stay or dismiss an action when, although there may be jurisdiction, it is determined that there is another forum with closer ties to the case. In Boyle, plaintiffs are residents of the United Kingdom and France. The complaint alleges that plaintiffs contracted a disease during separate stays at defendant’s hotel in Dubai. The sole connection to New York in this case was defendant’s principal place of business.

The trial court granted defendant’s motion, noting that the action had closer ties to the United Kingdom, France or the United Arab Emirates. The Appellate Division conditioned the order on the the defendant accepting service in any new action and waiving any defenses, including statute of limitations, that were not available when suit was initially filed in New York. Both modifications provided that the new action  should be commenced within 30 days after defendant provided plaintiff with a signed stipulation.

When filing a motion to dismiss based upon forum nonconveniens in New York, make sure that you are comfortable with the jurisdiction you believe is proper for the case because you will be required to agree to the alternate forum’s jurisdiction should your motion be granted.

Thanks to Alison Weintraub for her contribution to this post. If you have any questions, please email Paul at pclark@wcmlaw.com

New Jersey Court Favors New York in Coverage Dispute

In Certain Underwriters At Lloyd’s , London, v. Books for Less, LLC et al, New Jersey’s Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of this case on the basis of forum non conveniens. Lloyd’s commenced an action in New Jersey seeking a declaratory judgment against defendant Books For Less. One week later, Books For Less commenced an action against Lloyd’s and its insurance broker in New York and sought the dismissal of the New Jersey action based upon forum non conveniens. Books For Less was a New York limited liability company and its broker was a New York Corporation. The Lloyd’s policy insured a Books For Less warehouse in New Jersey and an office space in New York. Lloyd’s sought policy rescission after the warehouse sustained over $270,000 in damages and it learned that the warehouse had previously been damaged in 2009, which was not disclosed on insured’s application for insurance.

The trial court held that the majority of the parties were companies with deep roots in New York. Moreover, in addition to the New Jersey warehouse, the policy also provided coverage to premises in New York and the policy was negotiated in New York. In addition, the broker refused to submit to New Jersey’s jurisdiction and the trial judge reasoned that the broker was a necessary and indispensable party.

The appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision as a reasonable exercise of its discretion. Moreover, it disagreed with Lloyd’s argument that the “first filed rule” favored retention of jurisdiction in New Jersey.

Books for Less provides an excellent examination of doctrine forum non conveniens. Actions will be directed to jurisdiction with the most significant interests and where most of the parties, witnesses, and evidence are located.

Thanks for Alison Weintraub for her contribution to this post. If you have any questions, please email Paul at pclark@wcmlaw.com.