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Air France Crash Plaintiffs Can't Sue in US

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

A federal judge in Northern California for the second time dismissed the Air France crash lawsuit on Wednesday, ruling that family members of those killed in the 2009 crash are not entitled to sue parts manufacturers in the United States.

Citing the legal doctrine of forum non conveniens, the judge determined that France is a more appropriate venue for the dispute despite the fact that defendants are American companies.

Even though the crash of Air France Flight 447 is still a bit of a mystery, family members are suing a variety of parts manufacturers, including Intel, Honeywell and GE, alleging that the crash was the result of a system malfunction, reports Reuters.

But just because a lawsuit is filed in U.S. courts it doesn't mean that it gets to stay there.

The doctrine of forum non conveniens gives judges the discretion to dismiss suits when there is a more adequate forum elsewhere. In deciding whether to dismiss a suit, a judge will consider the residence of the parties, the location of evidence, and public policy.

He cannot dismiss a suit if there is no other available forum to hear the case or if the only available forums are judicially inadequate.

The Air France crash lawsuit was dismissed under this doctrine for one primary reason: the location of evidence.

France is currently in the midst of a detailed investigation into the accident, and has custody of the black boxes and voice recorders, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Because an American judge has no ability to compel the production of evidence from a foreign country, it was found that the Air France crash lawsuit is better suited to occur in France.

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