The World in U.S. Courts: Spring 2015 - Forum Non Conveniens/International Comity
Simmtech, a Korean exporter, unsuccessfully sued Citibank Korea (CK) in Korea for damages allegedly suffered as a result of currency transactions. It then sued CK's U.S. affiliates in U.S. District Court in New York, arguing that they were also responsible for the alleged loss because CK was acting as an agent of the U.S. entities, and profited from CK's unlawful activities. The Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on forum non conveniens grounds.
The District Court began by observing that great deference is typically accorded to a plaintiff's choice of forum, but that deference would not apply to the case at bar because Semmtech had no ties to the U.S., had selected a U.S. forum for reasons motivated by "forum shopping," the transactions and likely witnesses were based in Korea, and that Simmtech had very few relevant U.S. contacts. The District Court also found that Korea was an adequate alternative forum for litigation, despite claims that discovery and remedies in Korean courts would not be as beneficial to Simmtech as they would be in New York courts. Finally, public and private factors of cost and the relative interests of the two jurisdictions in resolving the dispute were considered and found to point to Korea. The District Court thus dismissed the case, observing that governing precedent permitted the forum non conveniens doctrine to be applied even where the defendants resided in the forum.