Chirag v. Mt Marida Marguerite Schiffahrts
A court can find that Connecticut is an inconvenient forum for litigation, if significant evidence is located elsewhere, it is highly unlikely that United States law will apply, and a key defendant is not amenable to process in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. The plaintiff sailors, who are citizens of India, were on a vessel in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, when their ship was hijacked in May 2010, and they were subjected to physical and mental abuse. The plaintiffs sued the Marshall Islands owner of a pool of vessels, Marida Tankers Inc., and Heidmar, a Connecticut company that manages vessels. Marida Tankers moved to dismiss on the basis of inconvenient forum and argued that the suit should be litigated elsewhere, because the charter agreement was signed in London and is governed by English law; employment contracts were signed in India; and key evidence is located in Germany. When ruling on whether a forum is convenient, courts may consider: 1.) ease of access to sources of proof; 2.) access to witnesses; 3.) access to evidence; 4.) enforceability of potential judgments; and 5.) other factors that affect whether trial is easy, expeditious and inexpensive. A key defendant is not amenable to process in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. The ship has not visited the United States since 2009. "[N]othing," wrote the court, "indicates that the ship is managed out of the United States or that it has any real relationship with this country." It is highly unlikely that United States law will apply. The majority of evidence is likely to be located abroad. The plaintiffs admitted that they chose to litigate in Connecticut, because they were destitute and were able to reach a contingency fee agreement with attorneys to litigate here. The fact that the plaintiffs are attempting to take advantage of United States law and procedure arguably indicates forum shopping. The court granted the motion to dismiss on the grounds of inconvenient forum.