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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: August 16, 2019

Dismissal on Forum Non Conveniens Grounds Does Not Require the Existence of an Alternative Forum

On August 6, 2019, the First Department issued a decision in Primus Pac. Partners 1, LP v. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., 2019 NY Slip Op. 06052, holding that dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds does not require the existence of an alternative forum, explaining:

The action was properly dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds, given the unduly burdensome inquiry involved in determining personal jurisdiction in these circumstances and the balance of the forum non conveniens considerations. The decision whether the court had jurisdiction over GSS because GSS was a mere department of New-York-based Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GSG) would involve an arduous inquiry into whether GSG controlled GSS’s finances, interfered with the selection and assignment of executive personnel, and failed to observe corporate formalities, and whether defendant Tim Leissner had sufficient contacts with New York.

Plaintiff’s causes of action for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty lack a substantial nexus with New York. Furthermore, plaintiff is a Cayman Islands partnership, not a New York resident. Finally, Malaysia has a greater interest than New York in whether one Malaysian bank corruptly took over another Malaysian bank (EON).

Contrary to plaintiff’s contention, New York law does not require an alternative forum to be available.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

Disputes regarding commercial contracts involving international parties end up being heard in New York courts. Even if the court has the power to assert jurisdiction of the parties, it can, under the forum non conveniens doctrine discussed above, dismiss the dispute so it can be heard in a forum that is more convenient for the parties. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at jlundin@schlamstone.com if you or a client face a situation where you are unsure whether New York is the appropriate forum in which a dispute should be heard.

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