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Florida Third DCA affirms trial court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss product liability claim on forum non conveniens grounds

On April 26, 2017, in Taurus International Manufacturing v. Friend, No. 3D16-1960, the Florida Third DCA affirmed the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion to dismiss a product liability claim on forum non conveniens grounds. The plaintiff filed his lawsuit against the defendant firearm manufacturer in Dade County, Florida, where the defendant maintains its corporate headquarters, rather than in the plaintiff’s home state of Kentucky where the gun was acquired and used by the plaintiff and where the injury occurred. The Third DCA noted that under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.061(a), the “decision to grant or deny the motion for dismissal rests in the sound discretion of the trial court, subject to review for abuse of discretion.” The rule outlines four factors the trial court may consider when ruling on a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens: (1) whether “an adequate alternate forum exists which possesses jurisdiction over the whole case, including all of the parties”; (2) whether “all relevant factors of private interest favor the alternate forum, weighing in the balance a strong presumption against disturbing plaintiffs’ initial forum choice”; (3) “if the balance of private interests is at or near equipoise,” whether “factors of public interest tip the balance in favor of trial in the alternate forum”; and (4) whether the “plaintiffs can reinstate their suit in the alternate forum without undue inconvenience or prejudice.” Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.061(a)(1)-(4) (emphasis added); see also Kinney Sys., Inc. v. Continental Ins. Co., 674 So. 2d 86 (Fla. 1996) (adopting emergency Rule of Civil Procedure 1.061). The Third DCA concluded that on the basis of the above standard, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to dismiss the complaint in the county in which the defendant markets, distributes and services firearms.