Magdalena et al v. Ford Motor Company et al
ORDER granting Cooper Tire's 28 MOTION to Dismiss; this case is dismissed without prejudice subject to the important conditions explained in this Order; the remaining motions 26 69 are denied as moot. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 5/27/11. (vjt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
GABINO HERNANDEZ MAGDALENA,
individually and as surviving spouse and
next of kin of HERMENEJILDA
HERNANDEZ FLORES; IGNACIO
HERNANDEZ and MARIA DEL JESUS
GARCIA HERNANDEZ, individually
and as parents and next friends of M.H.G.,
a minor and A.J.H.G., a minor; MICAELA
JUAREZ; and MARIA REMEDIOS RUIZ
Case No. 4:10-cv-148-DPM
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, COOPER
TIRE AND RUBBER COMPANY, G &
S MANAGEMENT CORPORATION
d/b/a TILTON FORD, and TRW
VEHICLE SAFETY SYSTEMS, INC.
What is the most convenient forum for this products case? Plaintiffs,
nine residents and citizens of Mexico, were injured in a single-vehicle accident
in Mexico. The Mexican federal highway patrol investigated. The vehicle
was licensed and registered in Mexico. Eyewitnesses and other witnesses are
located in Mexico.
The Plaintiffs allege the Ford vehicle, the tire
manufactured by Cooper Tire, and the seatbelt restraint system were all
defective and contributed to causing the accident, their injuries, and one
death. The vehicle, tires, and seatbelt restraint system were all designed,
manufactured, and assembled in the United States. Defendants consent to
jurisdiction in Mexico; and they move to dismiss on forum non conveniens
grounds in favor of Mexico.
The doctrine permits a federal court to decline jurisdiction where the
convenience of the parties, the court, and the interests of justice indica~e that
the case should be heard in another forum. Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S.
235,247-49 (1981). Balancing all the applicable private and public interests,
454 U.s. at 241 & n.6, the Court has no doubt that Mexico is a better, and more
convenient, forum for all concerned in this case.
The parties disagree,
however, about whether a Mexican court is really available, which the
doctrine also requires. 454 U.s. at 254 n.22.
Plaintiffs point out that Mexican courts do not have jurisdiction over
United States corporations; and they say Mexican courts will not assume
jurisdiction even if foreign defendants consent. Defendants contend their
consent will get the case in the door. This is an important question. But
whether a Mexican court will assume jurisdiction over this case should be
answered by a Mexican court.
Where defendants have submitted to the jurisdiction of a Mexican court,
waived any limitation defense during the pendency of this action, agreed to
provide all necessary witnesses and documents, and agreed to satisfy any
judgment rendered, Mexico is an alternative forum. Mizokami Brothers of
Arizona, Inc. v. Mobay Chemical Corp., 660 F.2d 712, 719 (8th Cir. 1981); see also
In re Ford Motor Co., 591 F.3d 406, 412-13 (5th Cir. 2009). Here, defendants
have stipulated to each of these things. Document No. 29, at 20; Document No.
30, at 1-2; Document No. 31, at 1-2.
The motion to dismiss without prejudice is therefore granted, subject to
the Mexican court consenting to exercise jurisdiction over this case. When
they file this action in Mexico, as they acknowledge plaintiffs must proceed
in good faith. Torpedoing the Mexican court proceedings is not a ticket back
to this Court. Likewise, if the Mexican court declines to exercise jurisdiction,
then Plaintiffs are welcome to return here. Defendants say they consent to
Mexican jurisdiction for a reasonable time. Document No. 29, at 20; Document
No. 30, at 1-2; Document No. 31, at 1-2. The Court directs Plaintiffs to initiate
this case in Mexico within one year of today's date, which the Court
concludes is a reasonable time and so defines that term.
Cooper Tire's motion to dismiss, Document No. 28, in which all
defendants have joined, Document Nos. 30 (Ford) & 31 (TRW), is granted.
The case is dismissed without prejudice subject to the important conditions
explained in this Order. And the remaining motions, Document Nos. 26 &
69, are denied as moot.
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