On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-10309-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes, Gilroy and Chambers.
In this products liability, negligence, and breach of warranty action, plaintiff David Almonte appeals from the August 15, 2008 order of the Law Division that dismissed his complaint on forum non-conveniens grounds. This is the second appeal in this matter from dismissal of plaintiff's complaint on grounds of forum non-conveniens. We previously reversed a prior dismissal of the complaint and remanded for the trial court to reconsider the motion leading to the dismissal of the complaint after the parties conducted discovery limited to the forum nonconveniens issue. Almonte v. Capco Enterprises, Inc., No. A-3738-06 (App. Div. January 24, 2008) (slip op. at 6). Because the procedural history and statement of facts were discussed at length in our prior opinion, it is unnecessary for us to detail them here. However, the following summary will place this opinion in context.
On July 22, 2005, plaintiff suffered personal injuries while employed by CDC Systems, Inc. (CDC),*fn1 a New Jersey corporation with its principal place of business in Elizabeth. The accident occurred at CDC's facility in Long Island City, New York, while plaintiff was operating a coin wrapping machine.
At the time of the accident, plaintiff resided in the Bronx, New York. Defendant Capco Enterprises, Inc. (Capco), a Delaware corporation, manufactured the machine. Capco is no longer a viable enterprise. Defendant Reliable Casino Products & Services, Inc. (Reliable) is the successor to Capco and has its principal place of business in Nevada. Defendant Glory USA, Inc. (Glory) is the distributor of the machine, and is a California-based corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey.
On December 30, 2005, plaintiff filed his complaint against Capco and Glory. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on July 13, 2006, adding Reliable as a defendant. On November 20, 2006, before responding to discovery requests, Reliable filed a motion seeking to dismiss the complaint on forum non-conveniens grounds. On February 8, 2007, the trial court entered an order, supported by a written decision of February 5, 2007, granting the motion. On appeal, we determined that the dismissal was premature and directed the trial court to reconsider the motion after the parties conducted further discovery on the forum nonconveniens issue, including whether "Glory's conduct consisted of something materially more than merely passing along the product as designed and manufactured by the manufacturer." Id. at 6. We also stated that "[i]f, however, Glory did nothing more than pass along the product as the trial judge presumably assumed, then we would agree with his decision substantially for the reasons he expressed." Ibid.
Following discovery on remand, Reliable renewed its motion to dismiss the complaint. On August 15, 2008, the trial court entered an order, supported by an oral decision of the same day, granting the motion.
In deciding the motion, the trial court reasoned:
All the aforementioned, the deposition and discovery establish [that] the machine identified in this case . . . . was never physically located in New Jersey, was installed and serviced by New York Glory.
Accordingly, the reality of the circumstances remain[s] as heretofore. The accident took place in New York. The fact witnesses are in New York. The plaintiff is from New York. The machine has never entered  the [S]tate of New Jersey. Reliable has not demonstrated that any evidence available in New York would be denied to it.
The Appellate Division, moreover, implicitly -- strongly implicitly agreed with this court's analysis of the public factors. And the circumstances gleaned from the discovery have not at all changed under the circumstances. The court, the appellate court, having reason[ed] because the action occurred in New York, it was incumbent that there be more than merely pass along the product, and that there be some relevant wrongful conduct that occurred in New Jersey.
The public interest factors weigh heavily in favor [of] dismissal. No New Jersey resident has been harmed. Again, the plaintiff is a resident of New York. The action occurred in New York. The only connection to the [S]tate of New Jersey is that one of the three defendants named in the respective ...