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Fox v. Bd. of Supervisors of La. State Univ. etc. - 576 So. 2d 978 (La. 1991)

Rule:

The principle of forum non conveniens is invoked when a court is a court of competent jurisdiction and venue; the principle being that a court can decline to exercise its jurisdiction in certain extraordinary cases. The purpose behind the doctrine is two-fold, ensuring that the forum is fair and convenient to the parties and not a forum chosen by the plaintiff merely to harass the defendant, and allowing courts a mechanism to regulate crowded dockets by ensuring that cases of no interest to the particular community where the case is filed can be moved to a more appropriate forum

Facts:

Tim Fox, a student of St. Olaf College in Minnesota and member of the St. Olaf rugby club, was a participant in the 1986 Louisiana State Rugby Club Annual Mardi Gras Invitational Rugby Tournament held on the campus of Louisiana State University (L.S.U.) in February of 1986. Near the end of the second match, Fox attempted to tackle an opposing ball carrier. Unfortunately, Fox missed the ball carrier, struck his head on the ground and broke his neck. He is now a quadriplegic and is confined to a wheelchair.

Tim Fox and his parents, Denver and Nora Fox, (plaintiffs) brought this action for damages against St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minnesota; St. Olaf's insurers, Pacific Employers Insurance Company (Pacific) and American Empire Surplus Lines Insurance Co. (American); The Board of Supervisors of L.S.U.; and L.S.U.'s insurer, Employers Casualty Insurance Company (Employers). The trial court dismissed St. Olaf and its insurers on a declinatory exception of lack of in personam jurisdiction. The trial court also granted summary judgment in favor of L.S.U. and its insurer.

Plaintiffs appealed and the court of appeal affirmed with respect to St. Olaf, L.S.U. and L.S.U.'s insurer.  However, the appellate court found that the trial court could assert personal jurisdiction over St. Olaf's insurer because they were doing business in Louisiana. Nonetheless, the appellate court dismissed the insurers under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

 

Issue:

By authorizing forum non conveniens dismissal in only limited circumstances, did the state legislature intend that the procedural device not be available in circumstances not specified in the state statute?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court reversed that part of the order dismissing the insurers of the home college under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, holding that by authorizing forum non conveniens dismissal in only limited circumstances the state legislature intended that the procedural device not be available in circumstances not specified in the state statute. The court affirmed the trial court's judgment as to the colleges and the insurer of the host college.

 

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