that gave rise to this action all occurred at AUH in Lebanon. Except for AUB, all
of the Defendants appear to be foreign residents. The only connections of
the two treating physicians named defendants, Kang and Kamar, asserted
upon information and belief, is that they may have received medical
education or training in the United States and may have been licensed to
practice medicine in the State of New York. The sole relationship of the
AUB with this forum is that it functions under a charter from the State
of New York, is administered by a Board of Trustees based in New York and
maintains an office in New York. See Gibbon, slip op., at 2 (noting that
AUB "is first and foremost a Lebanese entity despite its legal connection
with the State of New York."). No amount of discovery is likely to
materially alter these connections or relationships or strongly tilt the
balance of these operative facts to bring them any closer to this
Where the circumstances indicate that the parties and events bear no
bona fide connection, or at best may have only marginal links to the
forum, plaintiffs' choice of venue is not entitled to special deference,
in particular where the claimants are all foreign residents. See Reyno,
454 U.S. at 256; Iragorri, 274 F.3d at 72; VictoriaTea.com, Inc., 2003 WL
102882, at *3. Weighing all of these considerations strongly suggests to
the Court that forum-shopping reasons motivated Plaintiffs' choice of
this District. See Iragorri, 274 F.3d at 72 ("[T]he more it appears that
the plaintiff's choice of a U.S. forum was motivated by forum-shopping
reasons . . . the less deference the plaintiff's choice commands and,
consequently, the easier it becomes for the defendant to succeed on a
forum non conveniens motion by showing that convenience would better be
served by litigating in another country's courts.").
Second, there is no persuasive indication that Lebanon is not a proper
alternate forum. As this Court already found in Gibbon, AUB is subject to
process there and the forum recognizes actions for medical malpractice
such as that asserted by Plaintiffs here. See Gibbon, slip op.; see also
Jeha v. Arabian Am. Oil Co., 751 F. Supp. 122, 125 (S.D. Tex. 1990)
(finding Lebanon an adequate forum for a medical malpractice action
during civil conflict in 1990). Similarly insufficient are Plaintiffs'
conclusory statements about the adequacy of Lebanon's justice system and
their assertion that the Lebanese courts may not recognize all of their
causes of action. See Moscovits, 2001 WL 767004, at *3 ("While
[plaintiff] contends that [the proposed alternate forum] does not provide
[certain] specific causes of action . . . the adequacy of an alternate
forum does not depend upon the availability of causes of action identical
to those in the United States.") (citing Capital Currency Exch., N.V. v.
Nat'l Westminster Bank PLC, 155 F.3d 603, 610 (2d Cir. 1998)); see also
Monegasque de Reassurances S.A.M. v. Nak Naftogaz of Ukraine,
158 F. Supp.2d 377, 384-85 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (noting that petitioner's
conclusory arguments were insufficient to permit the Court "to pass value
judgments on the adequacy of justice and the integrity of [the foreign
state's] judicial system on the basis of no more than [petitioner's] bare
denunciations and sweeping generalizations."), aff'd, 311 F.3d 488 (2d
Cir. 2002). As Defendants point out, this Court's findings in Gibbon
relevant to prevailing conditions in 1983, when Lebanon was torn by civil
strife, persuasively argues in favor of a determination that Lebanon
remains an adequate alternate forum today.
Third, the Gilbert private interest factors weigh heavily in favor of
dismissal. All of the parties as well as all material
witnesses and relevant medical records and documents pertaining to the malpractice
Plaintiffs allege here are located in Lebanon. This Court lacks power to
compel the attendance of non-party witnesses at a deposition or trial or
the production of documents in their possession. See Ilusorio,
103 F. Supp.2d at 677. It would be far more costly and inconvenient for parties
and witnesses to travel to this forum and produce documents here than to
do so in the forum where the underlying events occurred. See Gilbert, 330
U.S. at 511.
Similarly, application of the Gilbert public interest factors here
support dismissal. See id. at 508-09; Ilusorio, 103 F. Supp.2d at 678. At
bottom, Plaintiffs describe a quintessentially local dispute
predominantly centered in Lebanon and that is governed by Lebanese law.
Lebanon has a strong interest in permitting its legal system to resolve
private disputes among residents and institutions located in Lebanon
involving injuries that occurred there. See Ilusorio, 103 F. Supp.2d at
679. Nothing in the facts Plaintiffs allege offers any compelling reason
to impose a burden on jurors to serve in this District, where the courts
are congested, and on this Court to apply foreign law, so as to
adjudicate a controversy with no connection with the forum other than an
administrative office maintained here by one of the Defendants.
Accordingly, the Court concludes that on balance, the Gilbert public
and private interest factors tilt strongly in favor of dismissal. See
Gilbert, 330 U.S. at 508; Reyno, 454 U.S. at 255-56.
For the reasons discussed above, it is hereby
ORDERED that the motion of defendants American University of Beirut and
American University Hospital to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint herein on
the grounds of forum non conveniens is GRANTED.
The Clerk of Court is directed to close this case.