may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Allstate Insurance Company,
Filed April 20, 1999
St. Louis County District Court
File No. C0-98-300892
Edward J. Matonich, David A. Arndt, Matonich & Persson, Chartered, 2031 Second Ave. E., P.O. Box 137, Hibbing, MN 55746 (for appellant)
Robert H. Magie, III, Magie, Andresen, Haag, Paciotti, Butterworth & McCarthy, 1000 Alworth Bldg., P.O. Box 745, Duluth, MN 55802 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Short, Judge.
Tammy O'Neil appeals from a judgment of dismissal. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing for forum non conveniens, we affirm.
A court may decline to exercise jurisdiction over a cause of action when it appears that another court would provide a more equitable forum. Kennecott Holdings Corp. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 578 N.W.2d 358, 360 (Minn. 1998). The court has broad discretion in deciding whether to decline jurisdiction on grounds of forum non conveniens, and its decision will be reversed only for an abuse of discretion. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 197 v. Accident & Cas. Ins., 525 N.W.2d 600, 604-05 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Apr. 27, 1995); Quintana v. Allstate Ins. Co., 378 N.W.2d 40, 43 (Minn. App. 1985).
There is a presumption that the plaintiff is permitted to choose the forum; however, the court may deny the plaintiff's choice when certain factors weigh heavily in favor of a different jurisdiction. Hague v. Allstate Ins. Co., 289 N.W.2d 43, 46 (Minn. 1979), aff'd, 449 U.S. 302, 101 S. Ct. 633 (1981). These factors include (1) ease of access to proof; (2) availability of process for reluctant witnesses; (3) cost of obtaining witness attendance; (4) possibility to view premises; (5) enforceability of judgment; and (6) relative advantages and obstacles to a fair trial. Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 67 S. Ct. 839, 843 (1947). Further, states have an interest in resolving localized controversies at home and in not overburdening their court systems with transient cases. Id. at 508-09, 67 S. Ct. at 843. Although the need to apply the law of another jurisdiction is not alone a sufficient reason to decline jurisdiction, the court may consider whether the more appropriate forum is the home of the law applicable to the case. In re Florance, 360 N.W.2d 626, 630 (Minn. 1985).
The district court reasoned in its memorandum that Colorado is the more equitable forum because the accident in which O'Neil was injured occurred there; the questions of comparative fault, liability, and subrogation are unresolved; O'Neil's initial medical treatment occurred in Colorado; and O'Neil has been paid no-fault benefits in accordance with Colorado law. In addition, the parties involved in the accident all have extensive ties to Colorado: O'Neil and Melvin Rose, the driver of the car in which she was a passenger, had been Colorado residents for a number of years at the time of the accident, even though they have since married and moved to Minnesota, and the driver of the other car, Ernest Cordova, is presumed to be in Colorado.
Although we recognize the presumption that a plaintiff is permitted to choose among possible forums, we conclude that the district court weighed the various factors and did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Colorado provides a more equitable forum.