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Target Global Logistics Services Co. v. KVG LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 13, 2017

TARGET GLOBAL LOGISTICS SERVICES, CO. Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant
v.
KVG, LLC Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff
v.
QAIS ANIL MEDICAL EQUIPMENT COMPANY LTD MOHAMMAD SEDIQ and ASIA PHARMA LTD Counterclaim Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Henry S. Perkin, M.J.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Partial Dismissal by Reason of Forum Non Conveniens and Memorandum of Law in Support of Partial Dismissal for Forum Non Conveniens filed by Defendant KVG, LLC on January 13, 2017 and January 15, 2017, respectively. Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to Defendant, KVG's Motion to Dismiss for Forum Non Conveniens was filed on January 29, 2017, and Defendant's Reply Brief in Support of Defendant KVG's Motion for Partial Dismissal for Forum Non Conveniens was filed on March 30, 2017. Having reviewed and considered the contentions of the parties, the Court is prepared to rule on this matter.

         Background

         Target Global Logistics Services, Co. (“Plaintiff”), a company located in Kabul, Afghanistan, entered into two “Prime-Subcontractor Purchase Agreements” with KVG, LLC (“Defendant”), a company located in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Complaint ¶¶ 5-6, 8. The Agreements required Plaintiff to act as a sub-contractor under an agreement that Defendant had entered into with the United States. Id. ¶¶ 1, 6. The Agreements called for Plaintiff to deliver certain medical equipment and supplies, for which Defendant was to pay Plaintiff $678, 534.83 under the first Agreement and $179, 136.48 under the second Agreement. Id. ¶¶ 8-11. Each Agreement required Defendant to pay Plaintiff for the goods within thirty days of delivery. See id. ¶ 12. Although Plaintiff requested payment from Defendant on October 15, 2014, Defendant failed to pay for the medical supplies and equipment that Plaintiff delivered. Id. ¶ 13.

         On January 10, 2016, Defendant filed its Answer and Counterclaim against Plaintiff. On June 10, 2016, this Court dismissed said Counterclaim without prejudice and on June 22, 2016, Defendant filed its First Amended Counterclaim against Plaintiff with a Joinder of three additional nonresident, Afghani Defendants. The counterclaim against Plaintiff consists of nine different claims. Although Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss Defendant's counterclaim, the motion was denied, and Plaintiff filed its Answer and Affirmative Defenses to the Amended Counterclaim on October 18, 2016. The Defendant later sought default judgments against the additional defendants, which were entered by the Court.

         On January 13, 2017, Defendant filed a motion for partial dismissal of the claims brought by Plaintiff on the basis of forum non conveniens. However, while Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's claims against it should be dismissed because the chosen forum is improper, Defendant avers that its counterclaims brought against Plaintiff should remain with this Court.

         Legal Standard

         As correctly noted by the parties, the doctrine of forum non conveniens gives a district court the discretion to dismiss an action when an alternative forum is available to hear the plaintiff's claim and the plaintiff's chosen forum is oppressive and vexatious to the defendant. Although a plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be disturbed, “[w]hen an alternative forum has jurisdiction to hear the case, and when trial in the plaintiff's chosen forum would ‘establish . . . oppressiveness and vexation to a defendant . . . out of all proportion to plaintiff's convenience, ' or when the ‘chosen forum [is] inappropriate because of considerations affecting the court's own administrative and legal problems, ' the court may, in the exercise of its sound discretion, dismiss the case.” Kisano Trade & Invest Ltd. v. Lemster, 737 F.3d 869, 873 (3d Cir. Pa. 2013) (citations omitted).

         “[A] district court must first determine whether an adequate alternative forum can entertain the case.” Windt v. Qwest Communications Int'l., Inc., 529 F.3d 183, 189-190 (3d Cir. 2008) (footnote omitted); see also Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255 n. 22, 102 S.Ct. 252, 70 L.Ed.2d 419 (1981). “If such a forum exists, the district court must then determine the appropriate amount of deference to be given the plaintiff's choice of forum.” Windt, 529 F.3d at 190. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has identified the following four factors to guide a district court's exercise of discretion: (1) the amount of deference to be afforded to plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the availability of an adequate alternative forum where defendants are amenable to process and plaintiff's claims are cognizable; (3) relevant “private interest” factors affecting the convenience of the litigants; and (4) relevant “public interest” factors affecting the convenience of the forum. Kisano Trade, 737 F.3d at 873 (citing Windt, 529 F.3d at 189-190).

         Private interests to consider include the ease of access to sources of proof; ability to compel witness attendance if necessary; means to view relevant premises and objects; and any other potential obstacle impeding an otherwise easy, cost-effective, and expeditious trial. Kisano Trade, 737 F.3d at 873 (citing Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. Chimet, S.p.A., 619 F.3d 288, 296 (3d Cir. 2010) and Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 67 S.Ct. 839, 91 L.Ed. 1055 (1947)). Public interests include administrative difficulties arising from increasingly overburdened courts; local interests in having the case tried at home; desire to have the forum match the law that is to govern the case to avoid conflict of laws problems or difficulty in the application of foreign law; and avoiding unfairly burdening citizens in an unrelated forum with jury duty. Kisano Trade, 737 F.3d at 873 (citing Piper Aircraft, 454 U.S. at 241 n.6).

         Discussion

         A. Level of Deference

         Initially we note that Defendant contends that less deference should be given to Plaintiff's choice of forum because it is a foreign corporation. See Memorandum of Law in Support of Partial Dismissal for Forum Non Conveniens (“Def. Brief”), Dkt. No. 87 at 5. “Ordinarily, a strong presumption of convenience exists in favor of a domestic plaintiff's chosen forum, and this presumption may be overcome only when the balance of the public and private interests clearly favors an alternate forum.” Kisano Trade, 737 F.3d at 873-874 (citing Windt, 529 F.3d at 190). When a plaintiff is foreign, however, the choice of a United States forum “deserves less deference.” Kisano Trade, 737 F.3d at 874 (citing Piper Aircraft, 454 U.S. at 256; Sinochem Int'l Co. v. Malaysia Int'l Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422, 430, 127 S.Ct. 1184, 167 L.Ed.2d 15 (2007) (“When the plaintiff's choice is not its home forum, . . . the presumption in the plaintiff's favor applies with less force, for the assumption that the chosen forum is appropriate is in such cases less reasonable.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         However, the Third Circuit has explained that the focus of the deference inquiry in the United States Supreme Court, and in this Circuit, “is on convenience, not on the particular significance of a party's residence or citizenship or a party's ability to invoke a United States court's jurisdiction.” Kisano Trade, 737 F.3d at 875. Foreign plaintiffs “may bolster the amount of deference due their choice by making a strong showing of convenience.” Kisano Trade, 737 F.3d at 875 (citing Windt, 529 F.3d at 190). Generally, “the greater the plaintiff's or the lawsuit's bona fide connection to the United States and to the forum of choice and the more it appears that considerations of convenience favor the conduct of the lawsuit in the United States, the more ...


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