SCOTUS Grants Cert. in Forum Non Conveniens Case
The Supreme Court has granted review in Sinochem International Co. v. Malaysia International Shipping Corp., No. 06-102, a case that will resolve whether a district court must first conclusively establish jurisdiction before dismissing a suit on the ground of forum non conveniens.
The ruling below was from the Third Circuit, Malaysia Intern. Shipping Corp. v. Sinochem Intern. Co. Ltd., 436 F.3d 349. There, the court recognized a circuit split on the matter:
Courts of Appeals have split on the issue. Compare In re Arbitration Between Monegasque de Reassurances S.A.M. v. Nak Naftogaz of Ukraine, 311 F.3d 488, 497-98 (2d Cir.2002) (holding that courts may pass over jurisdictional questions and decide a forum non conveniens issue), and In re Papandreou, 139 F.3d 247, 255-56 (D.C.Cir.1998) (same), superseded by statute on other grounds, with Dominguez-Cota v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., 396 F.3d 650, 654 (5th Cir.2005) (per curiam ) (holding that they may not). These are the three cases most often referred to, but the Seventh and the Ninth Circuits have also reached the same result as the Fifth Circuit's Dominguez-Cota opinion. See Patrickson v. Dole Food Co., 251 F.3d 795 (9th Cir.2001), aff'd in part, cert. dismissed in part, 538 U.S. 468, 123 S.Ct. 1655, 155 L.Ed.2d 643 (2003); Kamel v. Hill-Rom Co., 108 F.3d 799 (7th Cir.1997).
The Third Circuit's position was that yes, jurisdictional questions had to be resolved before a court could get to the forum non conveniens issue.
The petition for certiorari was filed this past July by Gregory A. Castanias, Victoria Dorfman (a law school classmate of mine), and Jones Day, all of Washington, D.C., and Stephen M. Hudspeth, of Wilton, Conn., who handled the case before the Third Circuit.