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Rudolph v. General Motors LLC

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

February 7, 2014

JYMI RUDOLPH, a minor, by and through her parent and natural guardian, AMY RUDOLPH, and in her own right, Plaintiffs,
v.
GENERAL MOTORS LLC, a Delaware corporation, Defendant.

Submitted: January 7, 2014.

Upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss On Forum Non Conveniens.

Matthew R. Fogg, Esquire, DOROSHOW PASQUALE KRAWITZ & BHAYA, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Plaintiff.

Kenneth M. Doss, Esquire, CASARINO CHRJSTMAN SHALK RANSOM & DOSS, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES E. BUTLER, Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is the Defendant General Motors LLC's ("GM") Motion to Dismiss on Forum. Non Conveniens. For the reasons set forth below, GM's Motion is hereby DENIED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Jymi Rudolph, a minor, and her mother, Amy Rudolph, initiated this action in connection with a single-vehicle accident that occurred in Virginia. According to the complaint, the minor Plaintiff was seated in the center rear seat position of the vehicle wearing only a lap belt when the car crashed and she sustained severe injuries. It is alleged that her injuries were enhanced by GM's negligent design of the automobile. On November 7, 2013, GM filed a Motion to Dismiss without prejudice based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens. GM argues that the case ought to be brought in Virginia, where the accident occurred and the driver of the vehicle resides.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Historically, the law of venue selection has deferred to the plaintiffs choice of forum on the principle that "plaintiffs should be masters of their own lawsuits."[1]When reviewing a motion to dismiss on grounds of forum non conveniens, a plaintiff is "afforded the presumption that its choice of forum is proper and a defendant who seeks to obtain dismissal based on grounds of forum non conveniens bears a heavy burden."[2] Only in the rare case where the defendant has demonstrated with particularity that it will be subject to "overwhelming hardship" and inconvenience if required to litigate in Delaware will the Court grant a motion to dismiss.[3]

LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Cryo-Maid Factors

In General Foods Corp. v. Cryo-Maid, Inc., [4]the Delaware Supreme Court highlighted six factors to guide the Court in determining overwhelming hardship and inconvenience if forced to litigate in Delaware. Under this framework and for the reasons set forth below, the Court has ...


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