Rule 1.061 (Choice of Forum) of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure outlines the procedure applicable to requests to dismiss a case based on forum non conveniens. Forum non conveniens is a Latin phrase meaning “inconvenient forum" and is a legal doctrine that allows a Florida trial court that has jurisdiction over a dispute to dismiss the case in favor of another state or foreign nation that also possesses jurisdiction over the dispute and would be a more convenient forum. The rule provides as follows:
(a) Grounds for Dismissal. --An action may be dismissed on the ground that a satisfactory remedy may be more conveniently sought in a jurisdiction other than Florida when:
- the trial court finds that an adequate alternate forum exists which possesses jurisdiction over the whole case, including all of the parties;
- the trial court finds that all relevant factors of private interest favor the alternate forum, weighing in the balance a strong presumption against disturbing plaintiffs' initial forum choice;
- if the balance of private interests is at or near equipoise, the court further finds that factors of public interest tip the balance in favor of trial in the alternate forum; and
- the trial judge ensures that plaintiffs can reinstate their suit in the alternate forum without undue inconvenience or prejudice.
The decision to grant or deny the motion for dismissal rests in the sound discretion of the trial court, subject to review for abuse of discretion.
(b) Stipulations in General. --The parties to any action for which a satisfactory remedy may be more conveniently sought in a jurisdiction other than Florida may stipulate to conditions upon which a forum-non-conveniens dismissal shall be based, subject to approval by the trial court. The decision to accept or reject the stipulation rests in the sound discretion of the trial court, subject to review for abuse of discretion.A forum-non-conveniens dismissal shall not be granted unless all defendants agree to the stipulations required by subdivision (c) and any additional stipulations required by the court.
(c) Statutes of Limitation. --In moving for forum-non-conveniens dismissal, defendants shall be deemed to automatically stipulate that the action will be treated in the new forum as though it had been filed in that forum on the date it was filed in Florida, with service of process accepted as of that date.
(d) Failure to Refile Promptly. --When an action is dismissed in Florida for forum non conveniens, plaintiffs shall automatically be deemed to stipulate that they will lose the benefit of all stipulations made by the defendant, including the stipulation provided in subdivision (c) of this rule, if plaintiffs fail to file the action in the new forum within 120 days after the date the Florida dismissal becomes final.
(e) Waiver of Automatic Stipulations. --Upon unanimous agreement, the parties may waive the conditions provided in subdivision (c) or (d), or both, only when they demonstrate and the trial court finds a compelling reason for the waiver. The decision to accept or reject the waiver shall not be disturbed on review if supported by competent, substantial evidence.
(f) Reduction to Writing. --The parties shall reduce their stipulation to a writing signed by them, which shall include all stipulations provided by this rule and which shall be deemed incorporated by reference in any subsequent order of dismissal.
(g) Time for Moving for Dismissal. --A motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens shall be served not later than 60 days after service of process on the moving party.
(h) Retention of Jurisdiction. --The court shall retain jurisdiction after the dismissal to enforce its order of dismissal and any conditions and stipulations in the order.
Please contact Joel Ewusiak for legal assistance with your specific matter.