The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendants’ motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds should not have been granted. Nineteen plaintiffs brought this production liability action alleging damage caused by defendants’ “Just For Men” dyes and products. Only two plaintiffs resided in New York and defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted on that ground, without any further proof:
“The doctrine of forum non conveniens permits a court to dismiss an action when, although it may have jurisdiction over a claim, the court determines that in the interest of substantial justice the action should be heard in another forum'” (… CPLR 327[a]). The burden was on the defendants to show that “considerations relevant to private or public interest militate against accepting or retaining the litigation” … . Factors to consider are the residency of the parties, potential inconvenience to proposed witnesses, especially nonparty witnesses, availability of an alternative forum, the situs of the actionable events, the location of the evidence, and the burden that retaining the case would have on New York courts … .
Here, the defendants asserted no facts other than that the nonresident plaintiffs were out-of-state residents. The defendants did not meet their burden of proof on the issue of convenience of the witnesses, since, among other things, there was no statement as to whom the witnesses are and where they reside. Moreover, Just For Men’s design, manufacturing, labeling, advertising, and executive decision-making all allegedly occurred in White Plains, where Combe Incorporated has a principal place of business. Further, there is no per se rule stating that out-of-state plaintiffs cannot, on the ground of forum non conveniens, sue in New York based upon products liability … , despite the fact that evidence of damages would most often be found where the plaintiff resides. Albright v Combe Inc., 2020 NY Slip Op 00837, Second Dept 2-5-20