A airplane co-manufactured by American companies Piper Aircraft Co. and Hartzell Propeller, Inc. of Ohio crashed in Scotland in July 1976 killing all on board. The plane was registered in Great Britain and owned/maintained by Air Navigation and Trading Co. , Ltd and operated by McDonald Aviation, Ltd. , a Scottish air taxi service. Gaynell Reyno was appointed respondent by California probate court in July 1977 and filed against Piper and Hartzell claming negligence and strict liability in the Superior Court of California explaining that the legal environment in California was more beneficial than Scotland.
The forum was transferred to the US District Court for the Central District of California and then later to US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania where petitioners filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens. After finding an alternative forum in Scotland, the District Court granted the motion and dismissed the complaint and stated it would be better to move the case to Scotland, as it was more related to the proceedings.
However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the district court’s decision on the grounds dismissal is automatically barred when the law of the alternative forum is less favorable to the plaintiff than the law of the forum chosen by the plaintiff. Certiorari was granted and the Supreme Court established that in dismissing a case for forum non convenience several factors should be considered since they affect the conduct of the trial.
These factors are: a) the access to sources of proof and evidence; b) the availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling witnesses, c) the cost of obtaining attendance of willing witnesses; and d) the possibility of viewing of premises. As a result, the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the petitioner’s motion to dismiss. Thus, judgment of the United States Court of Appeals was reversed.
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