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Friday, August 12, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides Indiana case Aug. 11th, re forum non conveniens

In Ashoke Deb v. Sirva Incorporated (SD Ind., Pratt), a 26-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:

Ashoke Deb contracted with an Indian moving company, Allied Lemuir, to move his belongings from Calcutta, India to St. John’s, Canada, but his belongings never left India. He now seeks to hold the defendants, two United States companies, SIRVA, Inc. and Allied Van Lines, Inc., responsible for the improper disposal and loss of his personal property in connection with his move. SIRVA and Allied moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Deb had failed to state a claim for which the court could grant relief, that he had failed to join a necessary party, and that the United States federal courts were not the proper venue for his claim. The district court agreed with the latter argument and dismissed on the grounds of forum non conveniens. Deb appeals. Because we have determined that the district court did not hold the defendants to their burden of demonstrating that India was an available and adequate forum for this litigation, we vacate and remand the case to the district court to do so. * * *

In sum, although it is within a district court’s sound discretion to dismiss a suit for forum non conveniens (Piper Aircraft, 454 U.S. at 257), it can only do so after placing the burden on the defendant to demonstrate availability and adequacy of an alternative forum. The district court erred by failing to properly place the burden. It may be that after conducting a proper look into the adequacy of the forum along with a balancing of the interests, the court may determine that a dismissal for forum non conveniens is indeed appropriate. Based on the bare claims before the district court, however, such a determination was in error. The defendants may refile their motion in an attempt to meet their burden. For that reason we VACATE the decision of the district court and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 12, 2016 10:39 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions