NELF successfully supported the doctrine of forum non conveniens in Connecticut. The issue arose out of a product liability action brought on behalf of sixteen residents of Australia and the administrators of the estates of thirteen deceased residents of Australia stemming from a mid-air collision in Australia of two helicopters owned and operated by the Australian army. Following the accident, a military Board of Inquiry (BOI) conducted an extensive investigation during which it took evidence from 144 witnesses and accepted 215 exhibits. The BOI expressly found that “no aircraft maintenance or engineering factor contributed to this accident.” The plaintiffs, however, alleged in Connecticut superior court that defects in night vision goggles and Blackhawk helicopters caused the collision. The defendants moved to dismiss for forum non conveniens. The trial court denied these motions despite finding that Australia is an adequate forum and that the public interest favors Australia as a forum over Connecticut.
On behalf of itself and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, NELF submitted an amicus brief to the Connecticut Supreme Court arguing that if the doctrine of forum non conveniens is not available to foreign plaintiffs, who can satisfy minimal jurisdictional requirements and whose claims would otherwise be dismissed from federal and the vast majority of state courts, would be encouraged to bring their claims in Connecticut at great cost to companies doing business there and the Connecticut judiciary. Connecticut corporations would have been unjustly hindered in their ability to defend such cases if they had to rely upon videotaped depositions, were prevented from providing live witnesses, and were denied the ability to implead third parties. The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the trial court decision and remanded the case to the trial court to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens.