The location where a lawsuit is tried can have an important impact on the outcome of the litigation. The location, or the forum, will determine the judge who hears the case. The jury pool that decides the case will often influence the substantive law and will also affect the procedural law.
For example, there are choices sometimes between a court or arbitration, or between a federal or state court. Oftentimes in Texas there are disputes about whether the case will be tried in one county or another county.
We’re here to discuss this particular type of dispute about the trial, which is called Forum Non-Conveniens.
What is Forum Non-Conveniens?
A motion to dismiss for Forum Non-Conveniens argues that the case is either filed in the wrong state within the United States or is filed in the wrong country. This requires the court to analyze a number of factors to decide whether another state or another country provides the better forum.
What Law Applies?
Another factor the court will consider is the law that will apply to the dispute. For example, in a personal injury case, typically, the law of the location where the accident or the injury occurred will apply. There’s also the determination regarding the availability of evidence and the availability of witnesses. In addition, if the viewing of a premises is required by the court or the jury to determine the outcome, then that might weigh in favor of a dismissal for Forum Non-Conveniens.
Public Interest Factors
Finally, there are public interest factors that the court will consider. So, for example, if the facts at issue in a case are such that the jurors where the lawsuit has been filed really have no interest in the outcome of that matter, or if the local government doesn’t have an interest in the outcome, or if the lawsuit has been filed in a court that has a congested docket, then the court will compare its docket perhaps with the congestion levels of the court where the movement is asking the case to be tried, whether not the relative congestion is a public administration burden that weighs in favor of the dismissal in favor of the other forum.
These are multi-factor tests that require a great deal of argument and briefing. When a case is initially filed here, in Texas, we will often advise our clients about whether or not it’s important to examine another location or another forum, and if appropriate we’ll help them bring a motion to dismiss for Forum Non-Conveniens.