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Randhawa v. Skylux Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 3, 2013

MOHIT RANDHAWA aka HARPAL SINGH, and SHANNON CALLNET PVT LTD, Plaintiffs,
v.
SKYLUX INC.; INTERACTIVE INTELLIGENCE, INC.; MUJEEB PUZHAKKARAILLATH; SKYLUX TELELINK PVT LTD; and DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FORUM NON CONVENIENS AND MOTION TO REQUIRE BOND

WILLIAM B. SHUBB, District Judge.

This matter is again before the court on defendant Skylux Telelink PVT, LTD's ("STPL") motion to dismiss plaintiff Shannon Callnet's single remaining claim against it in the Sixth Amended Complaint ("Sixth AC") pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. (Docket No. 175.) Defendant also moves for the court to require plaintiff to post a bond to secure the recoverable costs of litigation. (Docket No. 176.)

Plaintiff's general allegations have been set out in previous orders, including the October 26, 2012 Order, (Docket No. 148), and will not be repeated here. After the court dismissed the majority of plaintiffs' claims in the Sixth AC, (January 16, 2012 Order), the only remaining claim in the case is a breach of implied warranty of fitness and merchantability asserted by Shannon Callnet against STPL for the alleged sale of software in the setup and running of a call center business in India. STPL, an Indian company, argues that the dispute between it and Shannon Callnet, also an Indian company, should be settled in the Indian courts and the case should be dismissed under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

As explained by the Supreme Court:

A federal court has discretion to dismiss a case on the ground of forum non conveniens when an alternative forum has jurisdiction to hear [the] case, and... trial in the chosen forum would establish... oppressiveness and vexation to a defendant... out of all proportion to plaintiff's convenience, or... the chosen forum [is] inappropriate because of considerations affecting the court's own administrative and legal problems.

Sinochem Intern. Co. Ltd. v. Malaysia Intern. Shipping Corp. , 549 U.S. 422, 429 (2007) (alterations in original) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "Dismissal for forum non conveniens reflects a court's assessment of a range of considerations, most notably the convenience to the parties and the practical difficulties that can attend the adjudication of a dispute in a certain locality.'" Id . (quoting Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co. , 517 U.S. 706, 723 (1996)). The Supreme Court "ha[s] characterized forum non conveniens as, essentially, a supervening venue provision, permitting displacement of the ordinary rules of venue when, in light of certain conditions, the trial court thinks that jurisdiction ought to be declined.'" Id. at 529-30 (quoting Am. Dredging Co. v. Miller , 510 U.S. 443, 453 (1994)). "The common-law doctrine of forum non conveniens has continuing application [in federal courts] only in cases where the alternative forum is abroad, and perhaps in rare instances where a state or territorial court serves litigational convenience best." Id. at 430 (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

"To prevail on a motion to dismiss based upon forum non conveniens, a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating an adequate alternative forum, and that the balance of private and public interest factors favors dismissal." Carijano v. Occidental Petroleum Corp. , 643 F.3d 1216, 1224 (9th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 1996 (2013).

A. Adequacy of the Forum

"An alternative forum is deemed adequate if: (1) the defendant is amenable to process there; and (2) the other jurisdiction offers a satisfactory remedy." Id. at 1225. The circumstances in which a foreign forum offers a clearly unsatisfactory remedy are "rare." Piper, 454 U.S. at 254 n.22. Generally, an alternative forum is adequate if "the forum provides some remedy' for the wrong at issue. This test is easy to pass; typically a forum will be inadequate only where remedy provided is so clearly inadequate or unsatisfactory, that it is no remedy at all.'" Tuazaon v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. , 433 F.3d 1163, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Lockman Found. v. Evangelical Alliance Mission , 930 F.2d 764, 768 (9th Cir. 1991)). A foreign forum "may still be adequate even if it does not provide the same remedies or recognize the exact same causes of action as an American court." Id . The court need not delve too deeply into the adequacy of foreign law, as the forum non conveniens doctrine was developed in part to "help courts avoid conducting complex exercises in comparative law." Piper Aircraft, 454 U.S. at 251.

Multiple federal courts have found that India is an adequate forum. See, e.g., Best Aviation Ltd. v. Chowdry, Nos. 2:12-cv-05852-ODW(VBKx), 2012 WL 5457439, at *5 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 7, 2012); Farhang v. Indian Inst. of Tech., No. C-08-02658 RMW, 2012 WL 113739, at *9 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2012); Chigurupati v. Daiichi Sankyo Co., LTD, Civ. No. 10-5495 (PGS), 2011 WL 3443955, at *3-4 (D.N.J. Aug. 8, 2011); Krish v. Balasubramaniam, No. 1:060CV-01030 OWW TAG, 2007 WL 1219281, at *2-3 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 25, 2007).

Here, defendant is an Indian company and "hereby offers to submit to the jurisdiction of Indian courts in either Bangalore, where defendant is based, or Ludhiana, where plaintiff was based, for the resolution of the remaining claim raised in this action." (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 7:4-9 (Docket No. 175).) Defendant also submits the declaration of Ambika S, W/o H.S. Arunpraksh, who is a member of the Bar Council of Karanataka, India. (Docket No. 180.) After acknowledging that she understands that "Shannon Callnet's claim against STPL is that STPL has breached an implied warranty on commercial goods STPL sold to Shannon Callnet, including software, " she explains that "[t]he law applicable to the present case is The Indian Contract Act of 1872, " and that it is her opinion that "the courts of India are a fair, competent, and efficient forum for the adjudication of such a claim to judgment." (Ambika Decl. ΒΆΒΆ 5-6.)[1]

While plaintiff appears to question whether an implied warranty claim can be brought in India, a foreign forum "may still be adequate even if it does not provide the same remedies or recognize the exact same causes of action as an American court, " Tuazaon , 433 F.3d at 1178, and plaintiff offers nothing to refute Ambika's declaration that Indian law will provide a remedy. Plaintiff also argues that the courts of India are too perfunctory, providing a mere minutes per case brought before the bench. (Pl.'s Opp'n at 8:25-9:23 (Docket No. 184); Pl.'s Req. for Judicial Notice Exs. 2-3 ("RJN") (Docket No. 185).) Yet plaintiff also includes an Indian ruling in its submissions to the court as an example of an Indian court ruling. (Pl.'s RJN Ex. 1.) That document is over twenty-six pages long and exhibits a legal analysis that addresses legal precedent and each party's arguments. Looking to the evidence before the court, the Indian legal system's remedy is not "so clearly inadequate or unsatisfactory, that it is no remedy at all." Id . (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

India is therefore an adequate forum to resolve the ...


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