District Court Declines to Dismiss Case on Forum Non Conveniens Grounds Even Though Adequate Alternative Forum Exists

The World in U.S. Courts: Summer and Fall 2016 - Personal Jurisdiction/Forum Non Conveniens/ Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) | June.29.2016

Henning v. Arya, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, July 26, 2016

The plaintiff Henning brought tort and breach of contract claims against Arya, a resident of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), based on his alleged violent acts when he and Henning were cohabitating in UAE.  Among other relief, Arya sought to dismiss the case on forum non conveniens groundsThe Court stated that granting such a motion required that Arya show (1) the existence of an adequate alternative forum, and (2) that the balance of private and public interest factors favors dismissal.  It noted a strong presumption in favor of deferring to a U.S. citizen’s choice of a U.S. forum. 

Henning argued that UAE was not an adequate alternative forum because the defendant’s alleged wealth and influence, and the illegality of her cohabitation with Arya, made it impossible for her to receive a fair trial there.  While acknowledging that Henning had raised “serious concerns” about her ability to obtain a fair trial, the Court concluded that those concerns did not meet the very strict standard required:  that the alternative forum provide “no practical remedy” at all.

Even where an alternative forum exists, however, the Court observed that Arya was required to show that both private and public interests favored dismissal.  In the case at bar, the Court concluded that the private factors did not strongly weigh in favor of dismissal, noting principally that (i) certain witnesses and evidence was likely to be in the U.S., and the testimony of the parties and their experts in any event would be the most critical, (ii) Arya’s wealth made it easier for him to litigate in the U.S. than it would be for Henning to litigate in UAE, and (iii) that Henning’s experiences in UAE might suggest that litigation there might result in her suffering further mental trauma and security costs.

As to factors of public interest, the Court cited the State of Nevada’s strong interest in having its residents obtain redress for their injuries, and dismissed concerns that the possible application of UAE would prove too difficult.

For these reasons, the Court denied the motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds.

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