A federal court in Illinois has dismissed, on inconvenient forum grounds, claims filed by the families of passengers and crew killed in a 2007 aircraft accident in Cameroon. Claisse v. The Boeing Co., No. 09-3722 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill., E. Div., decided September 28, 2010). The defendants designed or made the aircraft and/or its components and were all domestic manufacturers. None of the decedents was a resident or citizen of the United States. The court analyzed whether Cameroon would provide an adequate alternative forum and, despite some differences in procedures and undocumented allegations that the courts in that country were corrupt and unjust, determined that it would. The defendants agreed that they would submit to the jurisdiction of a Cameroon court and that they would not assert a res judicata defense. They also agreed to toll the statute of limitations for 120 days after dismissal of the U.S. action.
With most of the witnesses and evidence located in Cameroon and because Kenya Airlines is an essential party and cannot be sued in the United States, the court was convinced that Cameroon would be a more appropriate forum for the action. It was also reluctant to burden Illinois courts with interpreting and applying Cameroon law and Illinois citizens with litigation having no significant connection to their state.