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Jones v. FC USA, Inc., d/b/a Liberty Travel, No. 17-1126, 2017 WL 5453497 (E.D.Pa. Nov. 14, 2017)

MCWG successfully moved on behalf of its client, Liberty Travel, to dismiss a case filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The case, a negligence action, arose from a sexual assault at a resort in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Plaintiff alleged that while at the resort, she booked a beach excursion that included a massage.  Once at the beach, she requested her massage and the man she believed to be the masseuse sexually assaulted her. Plaintiff, a Maryland resident, filed suit in a federal court in Pennsylvania. Liberty Travel moved to dismiss on the grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction, forum non conveniens, and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.  Because U.S. Supreme Court precedent allows a district court to address the issue of forum non conveniens without first determining personal jurisdiction, the Court focused on the forum non conveniens argument.  Through the use of an expert well-versed in Dominican law, MCWG successfully demonstrated to the Court that the Dominican Republic was an adequate, available forum.  Although the Court disagreed with MCWG that Plaintiff’s choice of forum should be given less deference because she did not sue in her home state of Maryland, MCWG, nevertheless, succeeded in convincing the Court that the private interest factors, such as the location of witnesses in the Dominican Republic and their lack of availability in a US court, favored dismissal.  The Court also agreed with MCWG that the public interest factors, such as the Dominican Republic’s substantial interest in the safety of guests at resorts within its borders, warranted dismissal.  Thus, the Court dismissed the action from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

For further information about this case please contact partner William D. Wilson or associate Katharine Anne Lechleitner.