Massachusetts Court Explains Grounds for Determining an Alternate Forum Should Handle a Personal Injury Case

It is well-established under the law that a plaintiff has the right to choose the forum in which to file a personal injury case. Thus, a court in the jurisdiction where the plaintiff files a case will usually determine the ultimate issues of the matter. In some instances, though, a defendant may argue that another forum is more appropriate and will ask the court to dismiss the matter. The grounds for dismissing a case based on forum non conveniens were recently discussed by a Massachusetts court in a personal injury case in which the plaintiff suffered harm in Greece. If you were hurt by someone else’s reckless acts, you should consult a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine what measures you may be able to take to seek damages for your harm.

Factual History

It is reported that when the plaintiff was on vacation in Greece with her husband, she suffered injuries when the boat she was riding in was struck by a boat owned by the defendant, which caused her to require extensive treatment in Greece and the United States. Following the accident, the Greek Port Authority conducted an investigation, which included obtaining thirteen statements from witnesses. The plaintiff subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, who was a resident of Massachusetts, in the Massachusetts district court. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens.

Dismissing a Case Due to Forum Non Conveniens

The law provides that a plaintiff’s choice of forum should rarely be disregarded. As such, a defendant arguing forum non conveniens bears the burden of establishing that a sufficient alternative forum exists and that the considerations of judicial efficiency and convenience weigh strongly in favor of litigating the case in another forum. The court explained that a sufficient alternative forum exists if the defendant proves that the other forum addresses the type of claims brought by the plaintiff, and the defendant is willing to be served in that forum.

In the subject case, the parties did not dispute that Greek courts handled issues such as those asserted in the subject case, the plaintiff nonetheless argued that Greece was an inadequate forum. The court stated, though, that a forum will only be inadequate if it is essentially unjust. Here, the plaintiff argued that her damages would be capped in Greece. While the court conceded this was true, the cap nonetheless allowed for a substantial recovery. As such, the court found that the Greek courts did not provide a potentially unjust remedy. Further, the court found that the fact that the plaintiff’s claims would not be heard by a jury was not a sufficient basis for finding her claims could not be fairly decided. Additionally, the court found that both private and public interest factors weighed in favor of the matter being tried in Greece. As such, the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

Meet with a Proficient Massachusetts Attorney

If you suffered injuries in an accident that was caused by another party, you may be owed damages and should speak to an attorney regarding your possible claims. The proficient Massachusetts personal injury attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan, are well-versed in what it takes to prove liability, and we have the skills and experience required to aid you in the pursuit of a favorable outcome. You can contact us through our form online or at 508-822-6600 to set up a meeting.