Utah Forum non conveniens

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Energy Claims v. Catalyst Investment Group, 2012 UT App 32

Trial courts, as courts of general jurisdiction, have inherent power to dismiss an action on the basis of forum non conveniens. See Summa Corp. v. Lancer Indus., Inc., 559 P.2d 544, 546 (Utah 1977) (noting that trial courts “undoubtedly could refuse to exercise jurisdiction if convinced that it would place an unreasonable burden upon some or all of the parties, or upon the court, to try the case here”). Further, “[t]he purpose of the doctrine of forum non conveniens is to provide protection against a plaintiff selecting a remote court where added time, trouble and expense would result in unreasonable inconvenience and hardship to the defendant, when the cause could [be better] tried in a more convenient court.” Id. at 545‐46. In Summa Corp. v. Lancer Industries, Inc., 559 P.2d 544 (Utah 1977), the Utah Supreme Court noted that when a trial court evaluates a motion to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens, the factors it should consider are:

the location of the primary parties[;] where the fact situation creating the controversy arose[;] the ease of access to proof, including the availability and costs of obtaining witnesses; the enforceability of any judgment that may be obtained; and the burdens that may be imposed upon the court in question in litigating matters which may not be of local concern.

Id. at 546. The supreme court then instructed that these factors are to be considered “in the light of the particular facts of each case and [the trial court should] balance the considerations in favor of according the plaintiff the assurance” of constitutional access to the courts. See id.; see also Utah Const. art. I, § 11 (“All courts shall be open, and every person . . . shall have remedy by due course of law, which shall be administered without denial or unnecessary delay . . . .”).