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Torts Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Ivan Jones and his fellow plaintiffs, all relatives of the victims of a New Zealand plane crash, appeal the trial court’s dismissal of their wrongful-death claims based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Because New Zealand is a forum in which, in the interest of justice, this action would more properly be heard, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to exercise jurisdiction. HOLDINGAffirmed. Jones appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his claims against Beech and Raytheon based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The doctrine of forum non conveniens is an equitable doctrine exercised by courts to resist imposition of an inconvenient jurisdiction on a litigant. Baker v. Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., 985 S.W.2d 272 (Tex. App. � Fort Worth 1999, pet. denied). A court can dismiss a case on the grounds of forum non conveniens even if jurisdiction is proper. Since 1993, Texas law on forum non conveniens in personal-injury and wrongful-death cases has had a statutory basis. The forum non conveniens statute applies a different standard to nonresidents than to residents of the United States. The record shows that the remaining litigants and witnesses have little or no relationship with Texas. Based on these facts, the trial court was entitled to conclude that in the interest of justice the case would more properly be heard in New Zealand. Jones, however, argues that, because New Zealand does not have a traditional court system where claimants can sue defendants, it is not a “forum” as contemplated by the forum non conveniens statute. In support of this argument, Jones has provided legislative history and briefing. Beech and Raytheon have likewise provided legislative history and briefing in support of their position. Jones refers the court to the Bill Analysis, which notes the language of the statute stating that in order to dismiss a suit where a claimant is not a U.S. resident, the court must find that in the interest of justice, “the suit would be more properly heard out-of-state.” House Comm. On State Affairs, Bill Analysis, Tex. S.B. 2, 73d Leg., R.S. 2 (1993). This language does nothing more than to essentially track subsection (a) of the statute. Jones quotes from testimony of a proponent of the legislation who commented that the legislation empowers a judge to ensure a suit brought by a foreign claimant “is tried fairly and in an appropriate forum” Section 71.051 Forum Non Conveniens: Hearing on Tex. S.B. 2 Before the Senate Econ. Dev. Comm., 73d Leg., R.S. 6 (Jan. 26, 1993) (statement of Louis Austin, Jobs for Texas) (transcript available from Senate Staff Services Office). This quoted language, however, says nothing definitive about what constitutes an appropriate forum. Thirdly, Jones cites to testimony of one of the drafters, who commented that where a case is more properly “heard in a forum outside Texas” the court “may transfer that case to the other jurisdiction.” Again, this gives no indication of what constitutes a forum for purposes of subsection (a) of the forum non conveniens statute. Unlike the statutory provision for U.S. residents, the statutory provision for nonresidents places no apparent constraints on what may constitute a forum, nor does the legislative history indicate an intent to do so. After reviewing the legislative history, the court cannot conclude that the legislature intended that for subsection(a) to apply, the alternative forum must provide, as Jones argues, a court system that allows litigation between the parties. In addition, courts in other jurisdictions that apply the doctrine of forum non conveniens have generally accepted New Zealand as an alternative forum because victims do receive some compensation for their losses. The court agrees with these courts that New Zealand is a forum for purposes of forum non conveniens analysis. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Jones’s claims against Beech and Raytheon on the grounds of forum non conveniens. OPINION: Angelini, J.; before Duncan, Angelini and Marion, JJ. Because New Zealand is a forum in which this action involving a plane crash in that country would more properly be heard, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to exercise jurisdiction.: Marion, J. “I must respectfully dissent. I believe the plain language of the forum non conveniens statute, which states ‘an action . . . would be more properly heard in a forum outside this state,’ necessarily means that the alternate forum be one in which the plaintiff is authorized to pursue its claim against the alleged wrongdoer. Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘action’ as a legal proceeding by which one demands or enforces one’s right in a court of justice. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 21 (1981). ‘Forum’ is defined as the particular court before which a case can be tried. Id. at 896. Here, it is undisputed that no tort actions are allowed in New Zealand; therefore, I believe there is no alternate forum in which this action can be heard. Further, a review of the legislative history of the statute, the case law subsequent to the enactment of the statute, and a recent amendment to the statute convinces me that it was the legislative intent that for an ‘action’ to be ‘heard’ in a ‘forum outside this state’ means a forum where the plaintiff is allowed to bring the “action” against the alleged tortfeasor.”

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