Ford Motor Company v. James

33 So. 3d 91 (2010)

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Ford Motor Company v. James

Florida District Court of Appeal
33 So. 3d 91 (2010)

Facts

Tatyana Allen’s dance team rented a van in Broward County, Florida, to drive to a dance competition in Alabama. The van was manufactured by Ford Motor Company (Ford) (plaintiff) and was outfitted with tires made by Michelin North America, Inc. (Michelin) (plaintiff). There were 10 people in the van, including Allen, all of whom resided in Broward County. While driving through Columbia County, the van suffered a tire-blowout and flipped. Allen was ejected from the van and died from her injuries. Sheila James (defendant), as the personal representative of Allen’s estate, sued Ford and Michelin for negligence and strict liability, alleging that the accident was caused by design and manufacturing defects in the van and in the tires. Ford and Michelin filed a forum non conveniens motion to transfer James’s pending action to Columbia County, arguing that transfer was appropriate because (1) the accident occurred in Columbia County; (2) the emergency and medical personnel who responded to the accident all resided in Columbia County; and (3) Allen’s autopsy occurred in Columbia County. James countered, arguing that Broward County was the most convenient and appropriate forum because (a) the nine other van occupants, all of whom were eyewitnesses to the accident, resided in Broward County; (b) Allen was a resident of Broward County; and (c) the Ford van was rented in Broward County. The trial court denied Ford and Michelin’s transfer motion, holding that Ford and Michelin had failed to present sufficient evidence to overcome the deference to which James’s choice-of-forum was entitled. Ford and Michelin appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Polen, J.)

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