Volume 36 (2011)

Volume 36 (2011) / Issue 4/5

Allan I. Mendelsohn, 'Foreign Plaintiffs, Forum Non Conveniens, and the 1999 Montreal Convention' (2011) 36 Air and Space Law, Issue 4/5, pp. 293–303


The purpose of this article is not so much to focus on the multitude of successful forum non conveniens motions that have been granted in recent years by US courts, but rather to focus on the increasing frequency of foreigners (i.e., non-citizens and non-residents) opting to sue in the United States. They do this because in many instances they are aggressively solicited by US-employed so-called 'consultants' who tell them that they can not only enjoy contingency fee arrangements in retaining their US lawyers, but that they can also enjoy the likelihood of much larger financial recoveries than could be expected from the courts in their own countries. Even if these representations are in fact true, the issue addressed by the author is the propriety of foreigners seeking access to US courts for these purposes.

The author briefly examines the decisions in several of the more recent aviation accident cases. A disproportionate number of them, as can be seen, involve accidents that occurred abroad, on foreign airlines - many of which do no business in the United States and, hence, are not subject to US jurisdiction - and with victims that are mostly or all citizens of foreign countries.

Finally, the author proposes an approach that he believes would help to eliminate or, at the least, lessen the frequency with which foreign citizens resort to US courts following aviation accidents abroad while, at the same time, providing foreign plaintiffs who are victims of international air mishaps with faster and more certain resolution of their claims. The author also proposes what he believes is a much better and more efficient system for determining whether courts abroad are available and adequate for purposes of allowing a US court to grant a forum non conveniens dismissal.

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ISSN: 0927-3379
ID: AILA2011029