Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno
454 U.S. 235, 102 S. Ct. 252, 70 L.Ed. 2d 419 (1981)
Five UK citizens were killed in a plane crash in Scotland. The administrator of their estates, Reyno, sued Piper (who made the plane in
Pennsylvania) and Hartzell (who made the engines in Ohio) in California
State Court for negligence and
of the five dead passengers separately sued Air Navigation, McDonald (operator), and the pilot's estate in a UK court.
admitted that she brought suit in California because the US had more
lenient laws regarding capacity to sue, damages and liability than the
law has no strict liability in tort, and wrongful-death claims are only
good for"loss of
support and society."
argued that she had standing to sue in California State court because she
was a California resident.
had the case moved to a Federal Court in California, and then, successfully
moved to have the case transferred to a Federal Court in Pennsylvania
pursuant to 28 USC § 1404(a).
to 28 USC § 1404(a), you have to
use California law, regardless of where you move the case to.However, California's conflict
principles states that if the case is moved to another State,
and there is a conflict of laws,
you have to use that State's law.
example, if it's a case of speeding, it's really appropriate to use the
speed limit of the place you were speeding, not in the place where the
trial is being held.
under California law, you have to use Pennsylvania Tort law, because
under California law you use the law of where the defendant is.In Pennsylvania, their conflict
principles state that you should use
the law of where the tort occurred.So, for the Pennsylvania plaintiffs, you have to apply Scottish
conflict of laws principle is an issue-by-issue determination.This starts to get complicated really fast.
it was transferred to the Federal Court in Pennsylvania, Hartzell &
Piper moved to dismiss on ground of forum non conveniens.
non conveniens means that the chosen
forum is not where the case should be heard.In this case, Piper argued that the case was more
appropriately heard in a UK Court.
Pennsylvania Federal Trial Court granted this motion.Reyno appealed.
Federal Trial Court held the trial would be much easier to hold in
Scotland, as the plane, navigation and parties were all in Scotland, as
opposed to respondent's contention the plane, testing, design, and
manufacture were all in the states.
Appellate Court reversed.Piper appealed.
Court based their decision on the grounds that dismissal should be barred
when the law of the alternate forum is less favorable to the plaintiff
than the forum the plaintiff chose.
law is less favorable to plaintiffs than Pennsylvania law.But isn't less favorable to the
plaintiff, more favorable to the defendant?Why should we favor one side over the other?
Supreme Court reversed, and dismissed the case.
US Supreme Court found that the private interest factors involved here are
more suited for trying in Scotland.The accident occurred there, as well as the ability to interview
critical witnesses and experts would be better served by trying in
Court had already established that the argument that the case
should be held in the US because damages and rules were better in the US
than in the UK was not convincing (see Canada Malting Co. v. Patterson
Steamships, Ltd. (285 US 413 (1932))).
was a clear case of forum shopping.
under 28 USC § 1332, the executor
of an estate takes on the citizenship of the decedent.This is specifically to stop
this type of forum shopping.