Claim of American Citizen

A defendant in an admiralty action seeking to dismiss the suit on the grounds of forum non convenience must establish oppressiveness and vexation.  In Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501 (U.S. 1947), the Supreme Court discussed the factors a court is to consider when an American resident raises a defense of forum non conveniens.  These factors are the relative ease of access to sources of proof, availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling witnesses, and the cost of obtaining attendance of willing, witnesses, possibility of view of premises, if view would be appropriate to the action, and all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive.  It was held that forum non conveniens can never apply if there is absence of jurisdiction or mistake of venue.

An American citizen does not have an absolute right to have the case tried in federal court.  An American citizen can sue for the benefit of a foreigner, and also a citizen can libel a foreign party on a cause of action that arose in the course of shipping between foreign nations.  However, the dismissal of the libel of an American citizen on the ground that it was for the beneficial interest of a foreigner may amount to abuse of discretion.

While dismissing an action brought by an American citizen on the ground of forum non conveniens, the court may attach some conditions to insure that the rights of the libelant are preserved.  Such conditions include requiring  that the defendant agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the foreign forum, to execute a letter of guaranty that the foreign judgment will be satisfied, not to raise jurisdictional defenses such as the statute of limitations or laches or in a tort action to only try the issue of damages and not contest liability.



Inside Claim of American Citizen