Koster V. Lumbermens Case Study

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THE ORIGINS OF THE FORUM NON CONVENIENS DOCTRINE The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the existence of the power to decline jurisdiction in exceptional circumstances. In reliance on this principle, federal courts have long recognized their power to dismiss a case in a proper venue on venue grounds under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Forum non conveniens is a common law doctrine that allows a court to dismiss a case if an alternative forum is substantially more convenient or appropriate. Judges lack the authority to transfer cases outside of their own court systems, so if a court makes the determination that a foreign court is a more convenient location for the suit, the judge’s only option is to dismiss the case. Essentially,…show more content…
v. Gilbert, and its companion case, Koster v. Lumbermens, established a balancing test when deciding whether to grant a forum non conveniens. The Court recognized the long-standing concept that the plaintiff is the master of his complaint and as such, a plaintiff’s choice of forum should rarely be disturbed. However, when an alternative forum has jurisdiction over the matter and when trial in the chosen forum would “establish… oppressiveness and vexation to a defendant… out of all proportion to plaintiff’s convenience,” or when the “chosen forum [is] inappropriate because of considerations affecting the court’s own administrative and legal problems,” the court may, in the exercise of its sound discretion, dismiss the case. The forum non conveniens balancing test involves a two step analysis. First, a court must find an adequate alternative foreign forum exists to solve the dispute. Once a court has determined a foreign forum exists, the court must evaluate the costs and benefits of dismissing the case to the foreign country. To do so, the Court provided a list of public interest factors, affecting the convenience of the litigants, and a list of private interest factors, affecting the convenience of the forum, which are to be weighed. At the end of the balancing test, the defendant must have overcome the presumption in favor of the plaintiff’s choice of forum in order for the court to grant the forum non…show more content…
Private interest factors to be considered in a forum non conveniens must be weighed to determine whether maintaining an action in the chosen forum would cause oppression to the defendant out of proportion to the convenience to the plaintiff. The Court identified several factors to be considered including: the residence of the parties and witnesses; the forum’s convenience to the litigants; access to physical evidence and other sources of proof; whether unwilling witnesses can be compelled to testify; availability of compulsory process; the cost of bringing witnesses to trial; the enforceability of the judgment; and all other practical problems that impact the case, speed, and expense of pursuing the

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