FNC Doctrine

San Jose Sharks, et al. v. Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Company

In San Jose Sharks, et al. v. Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Company, et al., the California Superior Court dismissed all claims against MCWG client Starr Surplus Lines on the grounds that Plaintiffs, who operated a substantial number of venues in and around Boston, were not allowed to bring their loss of business income claims arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic in California. In dismissing Starr from the case on the grounds of forum non conveniens (FNC), the Court held the FNC doctrine is designed to serve the interests both of the litigants and the public.

The Court concluded that the private interests of the parties would not be served by litigating the Plaintiffs’ claims in California, citing the following factors: none of the employees who were involved with underwriting of the Starr policies work or reside in California, but are instead based in New York; the policies were procured through brokers based in New York, where Starr is based; and the policies were negotiated in New York.

The Court accepted Starr’s argument that the public interest factors underpinning the FNC doctrine likewise did not support proceeding in California. The Court concluded that, while hockey is an important industry for the California economy, Starr had established that the dispute at bar was not sufficiently related to California’s interests to warrant adjudicating the case there. Based on these considerations, the Court dismissed Starr from the case.

Partner Wayne Glaubinger and special counsel Larry Hecimovich represented Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Company.

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