The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge
Before the Court is Defendants Wyndham International, Inc. and Wyndham Management Corporation's ("Defendants") Motion to Dismiss for Forum Non Conveniens. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.
This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff is the duly appointed personal representative of the estate of Carl Cyrus Dietz ("Dietz"). At the time of his death, Dietz was a citizen of the State of Illinois and a resident of Rock Island, Illinois. Plaintiff is a resident of Kansas. Defendant Wyndham International, Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey. Defendant Wyndham Management Corporation is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Delaware with its principal place of business in New Jersey. At the time that the incident in this case took place, both Wyndham International, Inc. and Wyndham Management Corporation had their principal places of business in Texas. Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort & Casino is an Aruban business. The amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.
On January 26, 2005, Dietz was visiting Aruba as part of an excursion from a Caribbean cruise. While in Aruba, Dietz spent some amount of time at the Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort and Casino in Palm Beach, Aruba ("the Resort"). However, the nature of Dietz's visit and his connection to the Resort are not clear, as Dietz was apparently not a registered guest there. While at the Resort, Dietz relaxed in one of the chairs provided by the Resort near the Resort's swimming pool, in the vicinity of a palm tree. While he was relaxing, the palm tree fell over, severely injuring Dietz and others. The tree landed on top of Dietz, pinning him to the ground and causing him massive injuries. Despite the massive injuries, Dietz survived for a period of time while Resort guests and staff members attempted to provide him with assistance. In spite of this assistance, Dietz died later that same day as a result of the injuries that he received from the fallen tree.
Plaintiff, on behalf of Dietz's estate, filed this lawsuit on May 1, 2006, against Defendants. This case was originally filed in Illinois state court, and Defendants Wyndham International, Inc. and Wyndham Management Corporation removed to this Court on June 12, 2006. Defendant Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort & Casino has not yet been served. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are liable to the estate because they violated the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, Illinois common law negligence laws, the Illinois Survival Statute, and the Illinois Family Expense Statute.
On August 1, 2006, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss for Forum Non Conveniens. Plaintiff promptly responded. The Court heard oral argument on September 11, 2006, and this Order follows.
The doctrine of forum non conveniens allows a trial court to "dismiss a suit over which it would normally have jurisdiction if it best serves the convenience of the parties and the ends of justice." In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 420 F.3d 702, 703 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Kamel v. Hill-Rom Co., Inc., 108 F.3d 799, 802 (7th Cir. 1997)). Usual forum non conveniens analysis consists of a two-step inquiry: first, a court will determine whether an adequate alternative forum is available; second, the court will then weigh the private and public interest factors related to the proper location of the litigation. Hyatt International Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 718 (7th Cir. 2002). The defendant carries the burden of persuading the court that a lawsuit should be dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds. In re Ford Motor Co., Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, 344 F.3d 648, 652 (7th Cir. 2003).
A. Adequate Alternative Forum
The first step in any forum non conveniens inquiry is to decide whether an adequate alternative forum exists. Kamel, 108 F.3d at 802. "An alternative forum is available if all parties are amenable to process and are within the forum's jurisdiction. An alternative forum is adequate when the parties will not be deprived of all remedies or treated unfairly." Id. at 803 (internal cite omitted).
Defendants argue that Aruba is an available forum because Wyndham International and Wyndham Management, which now both have their principal places of business in New Jersey, will submit to the jurisdiction of Aruba and waive any statute of limitations defenses to Plaintiff's claims. Second, Defendants argue that Aruba is an adequate forum because even though Dutch law (which governs in Aruba) offers Plaintiff the possibility of recovering fewer damages than Illinois law, the Aruba courts provide Plaintiff with an adequate system for redress. In Plaintiff's written Response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and at oral argument, Plaintiff did not dispute the adequacy or availability of Aruba as a forum for this litigation. ...