Supreme Court Clarifies Delaware Law on Forum Non Conveniens

Martinez v. E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co., Inc., Del. Supr., No. 669, 2012 (Feb. 20, 2014).

Why One Should Care About This Decision: This Delaware Supreme Court opinion clarifies the “overwhelming hardship” standard applicable to the law of forum non conveniens and the related Cryo-Maid factors, and affirms a trial court decision that is one of the less common instances in which a case was dismissed in Delaware on the basis of a forum non conveniens argument. The facts involve claims by plaintiffs from Argentina, as well as a DuPont subsidiary in that country and issues relating to the law of Argentina. (Hence the flag of Argentina.)

This decision is must reading for anyone who needs to know the latest iteration of Delaware law on the topic of forum non conveniens. This opinion is also noteworthy for its feature of a rare and spirited dissent in an opinion of the Delaware Supreme Court. The dissenting opinion in this case describes the majority as reversing decades of stare decisis on the law of forum non conveniens, and having an unstated purpose of protecting Delaware’s corporate franchise in reaching its conclusion.