United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division
GREGORY D. FISCHER Plaintiff,
ISLAND HOTEL COMPANY LIMITED, a Bahamian Company; ATLANTIS HOLDINGS BAHAMAS LIMITED, a Bahamian company; and BREF BAHAMAS LTD, a Bahamian company. Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
LAWRENCE KING UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE comes before the Court upon Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss (DE #17). Therein, Defendants argue that
this matter should be dismissed under the doctrine of
forum non conveniens, as this dispute has no factual
connection to Miami or to the Southern District of Florida,
and The Bahamas is a more convenient and appropriate forum.
This matter is fully briefed,  and as set forth below, the Court
finds that Defendant's Motion should be granted, and that
this matter should be dismissed without prejudice to
Plaintiff seeking relief in The Bahamas.
negligence action arises out of personal injuries Plaintiff
allegedly sustained while a guest at The Atlantis Resort (the
"Resort") located on Paradise Island in The
Bahamas. Plaintiff is a resident of Washington State.
Defendants are Bahamian companies that collectively own and
operate the Resort.
alleges that he was using the Resort's water park feature
and floating on an inner tube when a Resort employee pushed
two other guests into Plaintiff. This caused Plaintiff to
flip out of his inner tube, ultimately resulting in a torn
quadricep tendon and a broken tooth. Plaintiffs ruptured
tendon required surgical intervention to repair. Plaintiffs
Complaint alleges six counts against Defendants; three
sounding in negligence against each Defendant, and three
asserting vicarious liability against each Defendant.
Motion to Dismiss seeks dismissal under the doctrine of
forum non conveniens based on (1) the forum
selection clause contained within the registration documents
signed by and provided to Plaintiff upon arrival at the
Resort-the signing of which document Plaintiff disputes-and
alternatively (2) a straightforward application of the
elements of the doctrine, arguing that notwithstanding
Plaintiffs claim regarding the forum selection clause, all
forum non conveniens factors weigh in favor of
dismissal. As set forth below, the Court agrees with
Defendants that-Plaintiffs dispute regarding his purported
agreement to the forum selection clause aside-this case is
properly dismissed under the doctrine of forum non
conveniens, without prejudice to Plaintiff seeking
relief in The Bahamas.
doctrine of forum non conveniens permits a court
with venue to decline to exercise its jurisdiction when the
parties' and the court's own convenience, as well as
the relevant public and private interests, indicate the
action should be tried in a different forum."
Pierre-Louis v. Newvac Corp., 584 F.3d 1052, 1056
(11th Cir. 2009). Dismissal of a complaint based on
forum non conveniens is appropriate where:
1. the trial court finds that an adequate alternate forum
exists which possesses jurisdiction over the whole case,
including all of the parties;
2. the trial court finds that all relevant factors of private
interest favor the alternate forum, weighing in the balance a
strong presumption against disturbing plaintiffs' initial
3. if the balance of private interests is at or near
equipoise, the court further finds that factors of public
interest tip the balance in favor of trial in the alternate
4. the trial judge ensures that plaintiffs can reinstate
their suit in the alternate forum without undue inconvenience
Wilson v. Island Seas Investments, Ltd., 590 F.3d
1264, 1269 (11th Cir. 2009).
defendant invoking forum non conveniens bears the
burden in opposing the plaintiffs choice of forum."
Beaman v. Maco Caribe, Inc.. 790 F.Supp.2d 1371,
1375 (S.D. Fla. 2011). "A plaintiffs choice of forum is
entitled to deference, and there is a presumption in favor of
a plaintiffs choice of forum, particularly where the
plaintiffs are citizens of the United States."
Wilson, 590 F.3d at 1269. "That deference and
presumption do not dissolve just because the plaintiffs
injury occurs outside of the United States." Prophet
v. Int'l Lifestyles, Inc., 447 Fed.Appx. 121, 125
(11th Cir. 2011). However, "dismissal should not be
automatically barred when a plaintiff has filed suit in his
home forum. As always, if the balance of conveniences
suggests that trial in the chosen forum would be
unnecessarily burdensome for the defendant or the court,
dismissal is proper." Piper Aircraft Co. v.
Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 256 n.23 (1981). Moreover, the
presumption in favor of a plaintiff s chosen forum
"applies with less force when the plaintiff has ...