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Under the doctrine known as comity of nations, a court should decline to exercise jurisdiction under certain circumstances in deference to the laws and interests of another foreign country.
Plaintiffs, residents of Ecuador and a community in that country, filed this action is state court asserting a variety of causes of action arising out of the alleged contamination of the air, ground and water in Ecuador. In addition to monetary relief, Plaintiffs seek an injunction requiring Defendants to return the land to its former condition and the imposition of a "trust fund" to be administered by the Court. Defendants, a corporation and other parties, filed a motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claim that asserted a variety of causes of action arising out of the alleged contamination of air, ground, and water in Ecuador.
Should the case be dismissed under the doctrine of comity of nations?
The court denied plaintiffs' request to defer a ruling on a motion to remand and a motion for a 60-day stay. The court also denied plaintiffs' motion to remand the case to state court, and it granted defendants' motion to dismiss. The court found that it should decline to exercise jurisdiction over this case. The challenged activity and the alleged harm occurred entirely in Ecuador; Plaintiffs are all residents of Ecuador; Defendants are not residents of Texas; enforcement in Ecuador of any judgment issued by this Court is questionable at best; the challenged conduct is regulated by the Republic of Ecuador and exercise of jurisdiction by the Court would interfere with Ecuador's sovereign right to control its own environment and resources; and the Republic of Ecuador has expressed its strenuous objection to the exercise of jurisdiction by this Court. Indeed, none of the factors favor the exercise of jurisdiction. Accordingly, the case should be dismissed under the doctrine of comity of nations. Based on its consideration of the interests described by the Fifth Circuit in In re Air Crash Disaster, the Court found without reservation that dismissal on the basis of forum non conveniens will "best serve the convenience of the parties and the ends of justice."