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In re Optimal U.S. Litigation

October 10, 2012

IN RE OPTIMAL U.S. LITIGATION


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shira A. Scheindlin, U.S.D.J.

OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION*fn1

On August 10, 2012, this Court issued an Opinion and Order granting defendants' renewed motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens. On August 28, 2012, plaintiffs moved pursuant to Local Rule 6.3 and Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for reconsideration of the August 10 Opinion on the grounds that the Court "(1) incorrectly consider[ed] facts occurring after the complaint was filed to diminish the level of deference owed to Plaintiffs' choice of forum; and (2) [found] inconveniences where there were none and overlook[ed] pivotal considerations in its analysis of 'how great would be the inconvenience' for Plaintiffs to restart this case in Switzerland."*fn2 For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.

II. LEGAL STANDARD FOR RECONSIDERATION

Motions for reconsideration under Local Civil Rule 6.3 are committed to the sound discretion of the district court.*fn3 "'The standard for granting such a motion is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked'"*fn4 and that "might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court."*fn5

A motion for reconsideration may also be granted to "'correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.'"*fn6 A motion for reconsideration is not an opportunity to "advance new facts, issues or arguments not previously presented to the Court,"*fn7 nor is it a substitute for appeal.*fn8

III. APPLICABLE LAW

A full discussion of the doctrine of forum non conveniens is contained in the August 10 Opinion.*fn9 Nonetheless, I briefly restate the standard here. Courts may decline to exercise jurisdiction under the doctrine of forum non conveniens when, weighing "relative advantages and obstacles to fair trial" in the alternative fora, and practical considerations of which forum will "make trial of a case [more] easy, expeditious and inexpensive . . . the balance is strongly in favor" of the defendant's request for dismissal in favor of a more convenient forum.*fn10 In deciding whether to dismiss on this ground, courts in this Circuit undertake a three-step analysis set forth in Iragorri v. United Technologies Corp.*fn11 First, courts determine the degree of deference due the plaintiff's choice of forum.*fn12

Second, courts examine whether there is an adequate alternative forum for the dispute.*fn13 Third, courts balance the competing private interests of the parties in the choice of forum, and the public interests of the alternative fora under consideration.*fn14 "The action should be dismissed only if the chosen forum is shown to be genuinely inconvenient and the selected forum significantly preferable."*fn15

IV. DISCUSSION

When I first denied dismissal for forum non conveniens, I recognized that "the balance of factors was extremely close."*fn16 In reaching that decision, along with deference to plaintiffs' choice of forum I credited "the United States' interest in enforcing violations of federal securities law, and the due diligence efforts conducted in New York."*fn17 While reconsideration of the degree of deference due to plaintiffs' choice of forum was a factor in my ultimate decision to dismiss, it was by no means determinative.*fn18 In granting defendants' renewed motion for forum non conveniens dismissal, I emphasized that plaintiffs' federal securities law claims have been dismissed and the parties have undertaken extensive discovery efforts in Europe. This dispute now concerns claims governed by foreign law under relevant choice-of-law principles, brought by foreign plaintiffs suing mostly foreign defendants based on alleged misstatements made abroad.*fn19

I therefore concluded that "the balance of factors . . . now point strongly towards dismissal."*fn20 Plaintiffs have not pointed to any law or newly available facts that warrant reconsideration, nor have they demonstrated that failure to reconsider the August 10 Opinion will inflict a "manifest injustice" upon them.

A. The Court's Analysis of the Degree of Deference Accorded Plaintiffs' Choice of Forum Does Not Merit Reconsideration Plaintiffs argue that the Court made a "clear legal error" by "re- weighing the Iraggori [sic] convenience factors 'as discovery in this case has progressed,'" to "newly conclude[] 'that plaintiffs' choice of forum is entitled to some, but little deference.'"*fn21 In support of this argument, plaintiffs cite a recent Second Circuit summary order stating that the factors for determining what level of deference to accord a plaintiffs' choice of forum "must be analyzed in reference to . . . the time at which the complaint was filed."*fn22

Here, the Court did not reevaluate the degree of deference due based on "facts that arose or came to light long after the complaint was filed."*fn23 Rather, I concluded that " it has become clear that the focus of discovery is in Europe, which weighs against according plaintiffs' choice of forum deference" and "[g]iven that the focus of discovery has not been the United States, I am less inclined to infer that plaintiffs' choice of forum was motivated by genuine convenience rather than tactical considerations."*fn24 In other words, in applying the Iragorri rule that "we give greater deference to a plaintiff's forum choice to the extent that it was motivated by legitimate reasons,"*fn25 I reconsidered the inferences I ...


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