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Steven R. Pounian and Justin T. Green

Courts developed the forum non conveniens doctrine to protect defendants from being sued in an inconvenient location. When the doctrine was established, companies were subject to personal jurisdiction wherever they conducted substantial business, and plaintiffs could “forum shop” to bring suit in a U.S. court that might have little to do with the matters at issue in the litigation. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, however, have sharply restricted the locations where a defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction. Plaintiffs must now sue in the defendant’s place of incorporation or headquarters; where the injury occurred; or where the defendant engaged in activities relevant to the claim. Although these new developments restricting personal jurisdiction render forum non conveniens largely redundant, courts continue to apply the doctrine to dismiss cases. This can be seen in the large number of forum non conveniens dismissals involving foreign plaintiffs injured or killed in aviation disasters.

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