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Alcoa Steamship Co. v. Regent

decided: August 31, 1978.

ALCOA STEAMSHIP COMPANY, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
M/V NORDIC REGENT, HER BOILERS, TACKLE, MACHINERY AND OTHER APPURTENANCES IN REM, AND NORCROSS SHIPPING CO., INC., AS HER OWNER, IN PERSONAM, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from judgment entered in the Southern District of New York, William C. Conner, District Judge, which dismissed action on ground of forum non conveniens. Affirmed.

Before Waterman, Timbers and Van Graafeiland, Circuit Judges. Before Waterman, Timbers and Van Graafeiland, Circuit Judges.

Author: Timbers; Van Graafeiland

In this action commenced by Alcoa Steamship Company in the Southern District of New York to recover damages from Norcross Shipping Co., Inc. sustained as the result of a collision in Trinidad between Alcoa's pier and Norcross' vessel, the sole issue is whether the district court abused its discretion in granting Norcross' motion to dismiss the action on the ground of forum non conveniens.

After carefully weighing the relevant factors set forth in Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 91 L. Ed. 1055, 67 S. Ct. 839 (1947), the district court found that Norcross would be unduly inconvenienced in many respects and perhaps denied an opportunity to vindicate its legal claims against the Pilots' Association if the case were tried in New York. The district court found this imbalance to be significant enough to overcome the usual reluctance of courts in this Circuit to apply the doctrine of forum non conveniens when it would force an American to bring an action outside the United States.

We hold that it was within the district court's discretion to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens under the circumstances of this case, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in doing so. We affirm substantially for the reasons set forth in Judge Conner's opinion of January 17, 1978. 453 F. Supp. 10.

Affirmed.

WATERMAN, Circuit Judge, concurring:

I concur in affirming the grant by the district judge of the defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of forum non conveniens. I do so with great reluctance, for the position taken by may dissenting colleague is an extremely convincing one. Moreover, if I had been the district judge I could well have arrived at an opposite result to the result reached below. Although I am unimpressed with the thought that "the inability to implead the pilot association ... may seriously prejudice the defendant" and is of importance in deciding the motion, the opinion below is well reasoned and the precedents satisfactorily treated. Hence, although I do not fully join in the affirmance substantially on the opinion below, I cannot hold with my dissenting colleague that Judge Conner abused the discretion vested in him to exercise and that we should in this case reverse the order below on the ground of such an abuse.

VAN GRAAFEILAND, Circuit Judge, dissenting:

Appellant, Alcoa, is a New York corporation with its main offices and principal place of business in New York City. It transports ore and other bulk cargoes by sea, and charters the vessels required for this purpose. It also owns and operates a transfer station ore pier at Point Tembladora, Trinidad.

Appellee, Norcross, a Liberian corporation, is the owner of the M/V Nordic Regent, one of the ships under charter to Alcoa. The ship's master, Giorgio Lissiani, and most of the members of its crew are Italian.

Shortly before midnight on January 2, 1977, the MK/V Nordic Regent was approaching the harbor at Point Tembladora, which it was not permitted to enter without a local pilot. Captain Lissiani was informed by radio that a pilot would meet him at a point about one-half mile from the harbor. However, the pilot had not yet arrived when the ship reached the point of rendezvous. Instead of waiting a few minutes for the pilot to come, Captain Lissiani barged, literally and figuratively, into the harbor without him and crashed his vessel into Alcoa's pier, doing damage estimated by Alcoa at $8,000,000.

Alcoa commenced this action in the Southern District of New York to recover for its loss, serving Norcross through its general agent in New York. Norcross moved to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds, contending that the action should be tried in Trinidad, and its motion was granted. Because I believe that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing, I cannot concur in my brothers' decision to affirm.*fn1

It is the general rule that the doctrine of forum non conveniens should be applied only where "the forum chosen by the plaintiff is so completely inappropriate and inconvenient that it is better to stop the litigation in the place where brought and let it start all over again somewhere else." Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 31, 75 S. Ct. 544, 546, 99 L. Ed. 789 (1955) (quoting All States Freight v. Modarelli, 196 F.2d 1010, 1011 (3d Cir.1952)). Where plaintiff resides in the district where the suit is brought, "[under] the usual forum non conveniens approach, this would ...


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