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Forum Non Conveniens: Lawyer Q&A

QUESTION:

I'm a lawyer facing a forum non conveniens challenge from a bicycle manufacturer based in Connecticut, about a Canadian resident who was injured during a Seattle bike race, when the frame of her bike fell apart and she lost control, severely injuring herself. The company is saying that the case should be tried in Vancouver, BC, where she lives and where all of her doctors and therapists are. Of course, the liability witnesses are all located in Seattle and Connecticut.

ANSWER:

Thank you for posing your question on our blogsite. In the interest of responding to your inquiry in a way that will benefit all of our readers, I'd like to direct you to an article, Extending American Products Liability Jurisprudence to Canadian Plaintiffs - Lessons from a Seven Year Battle, we published in 2004 which extensively discusses the issues you're facing, regarding Choice of Law and the doctrine of "forum non conveniens". The article tracks the procedural history of our case, Tepei v. Uniroyal, et al, which resulted in a $9.1 million verdict in Lewis County, Washington. More importantly for your purposes, the article discusses how the Michelin Tire Company applied (unsuccessfully) to have our case removed to British Columbia on the very same basis that your bike manufacturer is alleging.

A second article, Wrongful Death and Survival Actions in Washington State: Comparing Benefits from a Canadian Perspective, also addresses Choice of Law and fnc issues in our discussion of the Brooks v. Cytodyne case, which arose from an accident which occurred just north of the border, but involved a defective product (health food supplement causing psychosis) manufactured in New York and sold in Kirkland, WA.

On a selfish note, I have twice been called as an expert in such cases, to assist the court with a comparison of the laws on both sides of the border, and that may be appropriate in this case. I will contact you directly.

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