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Delaware Supreme Court Sets A New Standard And Clarifies The Spectrum Of Forum Non Conveniens Standards

Gramercy Emerging Markets Fund v. Allied Irish Banks P.L.C., No. 49, 2017 (Oct. 27, 2017)

Under the Cryo-Maid factors, a Delaware court may dismiss a suit on forum non conveniens grounds only after the defendant shows that litigating in Delaware would impose overwhelming hardship.  Under the McWane doctrine, when a Delaware action is not the first-filed suit on the subject matter because there is a prior pending suit elsewhere, however, a Delaware court has discretion to dismiss or stay the later-filed suit whether or not the defendant faces overwhelming hardship. This decision deals with a particular convergence of these two doctrines, answering the question: when a first-filed suit elsewhere is procedurally dismissed and thus no longer pending, is a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens in a later-filed Delaware suit still subject to the more plaintiff-friendly overwhelming hardship standard? The short answer is no.  But that doesn’t mean the suit should be subject to the more defendant-friendly McWane standard instead. Rather, as the Court holds here, there is a middle ground, tilted to neither plaintiff nor defendant.  The Court rules that the Cryo-Maid factors relevant to a showing of overwhelming hardship control the analysis, but requires only that the factors favor dismissal, rather than establish overwhelming hardship.