Products that U.S. manufacturers made in the U.S. but sold in Argentina injured Argentines in their home country. The Argentines sued in the U.S. The U.S. defendants moved to dismiss the cases in favor of suits in the Land of Contrasts — perhaps in bustling Buenos Aires. Result? The American judges lightened their dockets with pen strokes granting the motions.
The Seventh Circuit upheld the forum non conveniens (inconvenient forum) orders. The court noted the oddity of U.S. companies begging for Argentine justice while Argentines pleaded for trials in Florida and Illinois. But no matter. "[O]ur focus in these cases must be on particularized circumstances that lean in favor of U.S. courts or foreign courts." Abad v. Bayer Corp., No. 08-1504, slip op. at 8 (7th Cir. May 1, 2009).
The court shunned the "incomplete" "laundry list" approach under the famous forum non decision in Gilbert v. Gulf Oil Co., 330 U.S. 501 (1947). The Gilbert method, the court pointed out, "gives a party free rein to suggest any reason that occurs to him for why the case should be litigated in one court rather than another." Abad, slip op. at 9 (emphasis in original). And so the court picked the factors it deemed most pertinent — which place's law will apply to the claims and the situs of key evidence. Because both pointed to Argentina and no other factor outweighed them, the court held that the district courts didn't abuse their discretion by dismissing the cases on forum non grounds.