“Availability of witness” factor key to forum non conveniens analysis

The district court granted a dismissal in favor of New Zealand, on forum non conveniens grounds, in Royal Ten Cate USA, inc. v. TT Investors, Ltd.  No. 13-50106 (March 25, 2014, unpublished).  The Fifth Circuit remanded for further consideration of what it saw as a key private-interest factor — “whether two key witnesses who reside in Texas would be amenable to process in New Zealand.”   The witnesses in question were former party employees living in Texas, and the parties disputed whether those individuals’ employment contracts obligated them to cooperate with litigation after their employment.  Their importance was heightened because they were particularly significant to one side, while the other side did not appear to have comparable problems with its likely witnesses.  The Court did not express an opinion about the proper result on remand, and noted that “[t]he decision regarding whether or not to take additional evidence is one that we leave to the sound discretion of the district court.”

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