Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert - 330 U.S. 501 (1947)
U.S. Supreme Court
Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501 (1947)
Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert
Argued December 18, 19, 1946
Decided March 10, 1947
330 U.S. 501
1. A federal district court has power to dismiss an action at law pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens -- at least where its jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship and the state courts have such power. Pp. 330 U. S. 502-509, 330 U. S. 512.
2. A resident of Virginia brought an action in a federal district court in New York City against a Pennsylvania corporation qualified to do business in both Virginia and New York (where it had designated agents to receive service of process) to recover damages for destruction of plaintiff's public warehouse and its contents in Virginia by fire resulting from defendant's negligence. The court had jurisdiction (based solely on diversity of citizenship), and the venue was correct, but all events in litigation had taken place in Virginia, most of the witnesses resided there, and both state and federal courts in Virginia were available to plaintiff and were able to obtain jurisdiction of defendant. Applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens, the court dismissed the suit.
Held: it did not abuse its discretion in doing so. Pp. 330 U. S. 509-512.
3. Important considerations in the application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens, from the standpoint of litigants, are relative ease of access to sources of proof, availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling witnesses, cost of obtaining attendance
of willing witnesses, possibility of view of the premises if that be appropriate, and all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. P. 330 U. S. 508.
4. Considerations of public interest in applying the doctrine include the undesirability of piling up litigation in congested centers, the burden of jury duty on people of a community having no relation to the litigation, the local interest in having localized controversies decided at home, and the unnecessary injection of problems in conflict of laws. Pp. 330 U. S. 508-509.
153 F.2d 883, reversed.
Applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens, a district court dismissed a tort action in New York arising out of events occurring in Virginia. 62 F.Supp. 291. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. 153 F.2d 883. This Court granted certiorari. 328 U.S. 830. Reversed, p. 330 U. S. 512.