SW Legal studies in Business

U.S. Is Forum Non Conveniens for Matter Dominated by Mexican Legal Interests
Description

Appeals court affirmed dismissal of a suit brought against a U.S. company indirectly involved in the death of a Mexican citizen in Mexico. The Mexican legal system provided an adequate forum to resolve the legal issues involved, so there would be no litigation in the U.S. under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

Topic International Law
Key Words

Jurisdiction; Forum; Forum Non Conveniens

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

PCA, an American company, owned the ship Pride Mississippi (PM). PCA leased the PM to Pemex, the national oil company of Mexico, which used PM in its oil operations off the coast of Mexico in Mexican waters. Sandria, a citizen of Mexico, worked for a Mexican company, GOMPS, which provided maintenance support for Pemex. Sandria was killed on the PM during a storm. The Mexican Ministry of Labor and Social Security assumed jurisdiction over the accident. Sandria's family members were compensated in accordance with Mexican law. Sandria's representative, Saqui, sued PCA in federal court in Texas, contending that the conditions on PM were unsafe and that PCA should be liable to Sandria's family members. PCA moved to dismiss on grounds of forum non conveniens, arguing that Mexican law should control the matter. Saqui argued that Mexico did not provide an adequate forum to resolve the matter. The district court dismissed the suit on grounds of forum non conveniens.

Decision

Affirmed. Private interest factors weigh in favor of finding Mexico to be an adequate forum. The accident occurred in Mexican waters. The ship was under the control of a Mexican company. PCA did not control the operation of the ship. Sandria was a citizen of Mexico, working for a Mexican company, in Mexico. The accident was investigated by Mexican authorities under Mexican law. Similarly, public interest factors indicate that the U.S. is a forum non conveniens: courts in the U.S. are congested; local legal interests should be settled in local legal forums; Mexican law has the most interest in the matter, not U.S. law; there would be conflict of law problems if a U.S. court tried to settle a matter governed by Mexican law; and it would be an unfair burden on citizens of the U.S. if required to serve on a jury about a matter that can be properly resolved in the Mexican legal system.

Citation Saqui v. Price Central America, LLC, ---F.3d--- (2010 WL 184252, 5th Cir., 2010)

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