South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Mexican Citizens Injured in Mexico by U.S. Products Have Adequate Forum in Mexican Courts
Description Appeals court held that a suit against American companies for products liability was properly dismissed when a Mexican citizen sued the companies in the U.S. Since the product was sold in Mexico, and the companies were subject to Mexican law, the proper forum for litigation was Mexico.
Topic International Law
Key Words Torts; Products Liability; Forum Non Conveniens; Damages
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts When Gonzalez was visiting Houston he studied about a Chrysler vehicle and bought one on his return to Mexico. A year later, when his wife was driving the car, she was in an accident that triggered the passenger-side air bag, which killed his three-year-old son. Gonzalez sued Chrysler and the air bag maker in Texas for products liability. The trial court dismissed the suit on the grounds of forum non conveniens, holding that Texas has a small connection to the case-the fact that Gonzalez studied about the car while there. Gonzalez must file suit in Mexico. Gonzalez appeals.
Decision

Affirmed. The fact that Mexican law does not have the doctrine of strict liability does not mean that it is an inadequate forum for litigation. Similarly, the fact that Mexican law limits damages in tort cases (at about $2,500 in such a case) does not render Mexico an inadequate alternative forum. Both private and public interest factors weigh in favor of maintaining suit in Mexico.

Citation Gonzalez v. Chrysler Corp., 301 F.3d 377 (5th Cir., 2002)

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