May 2, 2017
Appeal from the District Court of the Virgin Islands (D.C.
Civ. No. 3-14-cv-00099) District Judge: Honorable Curtis V.
F. Friedberg [ARGUED] Sarah L. Bunge Law Offices of Friedberg
& Bunge Counsel for Appellant
Jennifer P. Brooks Kelly Nicole H. Charles-Collins Michael J.
Dono [ARGUED] Jennifer Quildon Miller Hamilton Miller &
Birthisel, Counsel for Appellees
Before: GREENAWAY, JR., SHWARTZ, and FUENTES, Circuit Judges.
GREENAWAY, JR., Circuit Judge.
appeal, we must determine whether the District Court properly
exercised its power to dismiss a case pursuant to the
forum non conveniens doctrine when it dismissed
Appellant's claims under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. §
30104 (2012), and general maritime laws for unseaworthiness,
negligence, and maintenance and cure. We shall affirm the
District Court in two steps. First, we hold that the general
presumption that "[t]he possibility of a change in
substantive law should ordinarily not be given conclusive or
even substantial weight in the forum non conveniens
inquiry, " Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454
U.S. 235, 247 (1981), applies to these claims (a) because the
remedy provided by the alternative forum is not clearly
inadequate and (b) because the Jones Act does not contain a
special venue provision. Second, we hold that the District
Court did not abuse its discretion in exercising its
forum non conveniens power (a) because the District
Court correctly determined that an adequate alternative forum
existed and (b) because the District Court reasonably
balanced the relevant private and public interest factors.
case arises from the following facts. Luis A. Rubi
("Rubi"), a U.S. citizen, serves as the Director of
7R Holdings, LLC, a limited liability company with its
principal place of business in Puerto Rico. 7R Holdings holds
7R Charters Limited. 7R Charters owned M/Y Olga, a yacht
registered in the British Virgin Islands ("BVI").
Bernard Calot captains M/Y Olga. In a series of conversations
over email and the telephone, Captain Calot, while in Puerto
Rico, hired Michelle Trotter ("Trotter"), while in
Florida, to work as a chef on M/Y Olga. On December 19, 2012,
Trotter boarded M/Y Olga in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
("USVI"). On December 24, 2012, M/Y Olga traveled
to Scrub Island, BVI, and let down its anchor. Trotter
allegedly sustained an injury while descending stairs that
connected M/Y Olga to Scrub Island's dock. Shortly after
the accident, Trotter received treatment for her alleged
injuries at a BVI hospital and then flew back to Florida.
sued Rubi, 7R Holdings, and M/Y Olga ("Appellees")
in the District Court of the Virgin Islands pursuant to the
Jones Act and general maritime laws for the personal injury
that she claims that she sustained on Scrub Island. Appellees
moved to dismiss Trotter's complaint for forum non
District Court granted the motion. The District Court,
relying on Eurofins Pharma U.S. Holdings v. BioAlliance
Pharma SA, 623 F.3d 147 (3d Cir. 2010), divided its
decision into two parts. First, it found that the alternative
forum, the BVI, qualified as an adequate alternative forum.
Second, it held that the balance of the public and private
interests overcame Trotter's choice of forum.
appeal, Trotter raises two issues. First, Trotter argues
that, as a matter of law, we should vacate the District
Court's decision because the District Court failed to
perform a choice of law analysis before dismissing
Trotter's complaint pursuant to forum non
conveniens. Second, Trotter asserts that we should
vacate the District Court's decision because the District
Court abused its discretion by granting the motion to dismiss
pursuant to forum non conveniens. Appellees insist
that these arguments lack merit. We agree and will affirm.
resolving this case, we must address two issues. First, did
the District Court err in failing to determine whether U.S.
law applies before deciding forum non conveniens?
Second, did the District Court abuse its discretion in
dismissing Trotter's claims for forum non
conveniens? We review the first question de novo,
Maniscalco v. Brother Int'l (USA) Corp., 709
F.3d 202, 206 (3d Cir. 2013), and the second question for
abuse of discretion, Kisano Trade & Invest Ltd. v.
Lemster, 737 F.3d 869, 872 (3d Cir. 2013).
District Court did not err in failing to determine whether
U.S. law applies before dismissing the case for forum non
conveniens. This conclusion rests on the ...