Forum Non Conveniens Stay Upheld Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4, California, April 30, 2019

CALIFORNIA — Wisconsin resident Charlene Rickert filed a wrongful death suit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles, and alleged that American Honda, Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, and Kawasaki Motors Corporation, USA (respondents), among others, contributed to the mesothelioma death of Wisconsin resident Gary Staszewski, through his use of the respondents’ brakes, clutches, and gaskets. All of the relevant work and medical treatment occurred in Wisconsin, and all witnesses necessary to prove exposure and damages remained in Wisconsin. While the respondents maintained corporate headquarters in California, no specific witnesses within those headquarters were identified or had their residences disclosed. The respondents filed a forum non conveniens motion, which the trial court granted and stayed the case. Rickert appealed.

The appellate panel noted that their review was based on an abuse of discretion standard, and affirmed the trial court’s order. The panel noted that there was no requirement for the respondents to demonstrate that the current forum was “seriously inconvenient,” given that the trial court merely stayed the case instead of dismissing it. The panel further noted that there was no dispute that Wisconsin was a suitable alternative forum, leaving the trial court the discretion to weigh the private interests of the parties and the public interests of keeping the case in California, which the panel did not question.

The case summary is provided with permission of Westlaw here.

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