The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the district court’s forum non conveniens dismissal of a toxic tort suit filed by Australians who worked at an Alcoa refinery in Western Australia. Auxer v. Alcoa, Inc., No. 10-2131 (3d Cir. 1/20/11) (not precedential).
The appellants, 244 individuals who lived near or worked at the refineries, alleged that toxic emissions from the refineries caused cancer and other serious illnesses. They filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, contending that key witnesses and documents necessary to establish liability were located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The district and appeals courts both determined that the case should be litigated in Australia. The appeals court wrote, “Australia has long been established as an adequate alternate forum for litigation.” The court also noted that “Alcoa would be required to produce documents and witnesses for the plaintiffs’ use at trial,” in an Australian courtroom.