Justice Required: Using a Preservation-of-Court-Access Approach to Forum Non Conveniens in Five International Product-Injury Case Studies

Van Detta, Jeffrey A. | January 1, 2003

The American federal courts have used a questionable common law procedural rule to erect a virtually impenetrable barrier for those injured in other countries by products or industrial activities of U.S.-based multinationals. This barrier exists as the forum non conveniens (“FNC”) rule. Section II briefly reviews the current problems that the FNC rule causes and explains its origins. In Section III, I describe my doctrinal shift away from the FNC rule to a preservation-of-court-access statute. I demonstrate in Section IV, the focus of the article, how applying that statute would change the outcome of actual product injury cases filed by international plaintiffs, in which courts have repeatedly misapplied the current FNC rule to dismiss lawsuits against U.S.-based MNCs in their own backyards.