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Florida Third DCA affirms dismissal of premises liability slip and fall lawsuit on the grounds of forum non conveniens, finding Jamaica is proper venue for accident occurring there even though defendant is a Florida corporation

On March 31, 2021, in Fasang-Brown, et al. v. Visit Us, Inc., etc. No. 3D20-388, the Florida Third DCA decided a case presenting an example of the unusual circumstance in which a lawsuit against a defendant domiciled in the plaintiff’s chosen forum may nevertheless be dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds. The plaintiffs, both citizens and residents of Texas, filed a premises liability slip and fall lawsuit against a corporate hotel owner domiciled in Spain for injuries sustained in an incident that occurred at a hotel located in Jamaica. The plaintiffs additionally sued a Florida corporation, alleging that it jointly owned and operated the Jamaican resort with the Spanish corporate defendant. The Florida corporation filed a forum non conveniences motion, alleging that the case should be heard in Jamaica as the location of the accident and the residence of most of the witnesses. The plaintiffs countered that the relevant medical treatment occurred in Texas and that they were the only witnesses to the fall and the condition of the floor. The trial court granted dismissal. The Third DCA agreed, noting that the residence of the defendant is just one of the factors that must be considered under Kinney System, Inc. v. Continental Insurance Co., 674 So. 2d 86, 93 (Fla. 1996) and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1061. The Court observed that Jamaica was the jurisdiction in which the joint venture operation alleged operated the hotel, where the accident occurred, where initial medical treatment occurred, and was the only country in which potential third party defendants would be subject to jurisdiction.

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