U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal in West Caribbean Airways crash case

On Dec. 9, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request to review an Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed the order of a Florida federal court refusing to vacate its November 2007 dismissal of a wrongful-death and strict-liability suit on forum non conveniens grounds. The heirs to victims of a 2005 West Caribbean Airways crash in Venezuela during a flight from Panama to Martinique had claimed that their suit against the air carrier was improperly dismissed because it left them without a forum to litigate the case. The Florida court had dismissed the suit, finding that the French Caribbean island Martinique was a better forum. After France’s highest court had ultimately ruled that the French courts had no jurisdiction under the Montreal Convention once the plaintiffs selected South Florida as their preferred forum, they had returned to the U.S. courts seeking to vacate the district court’s forum non conveniens ruling on the ground that Martinique was no longer an available forum. However, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition fwithout comment, letting stand the Eleventh Circuit’sMay ruling affirming theFlorida federal court’s decision not to vacate its November 2007 dismissal of the suit.Case details: Bapte v. West Caribbean Airways, No. 13-429 (U.S., cert. denied December 9, 2013)

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