Stangvik v. Shiley Incorporated

54 Cal. 3d 744, 1 Cal. Rptr. 2d 556, 819 P.2d 14 (1991)

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Stangvik v. Shiley Incorporated

California Supreme Court
54 Cal. 3d 744, 1 Cal. Rptr. 2d 556, 819 P.2d 14 (1991)

Facts

The wives and children (family members) (plaintiffs) of two men, from Sweden and Norway, who died after receiving heart-valve implants that failed, sued the valve manufacturer, Shiley Corporation (Shiley) and its parent company, a Delaware corporation (defendants), in California. The family members alleged negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, fraud, and loss of consortium. The valves were sold and implanted in Norway and Sweden, which is where the decedents received medical care and where the alleged fraudulent representations were made and where the evidence regarding the provision of health care and other matters existed. Shiley moved to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds, arguing that the case should be tried in Sweden or Norway, either of which would provide a suitable forum and where the most important documents and witnesses were located. The family members objected and argued that California was more convenient because that is where the heart valves were designed, manufactured, tested, and packaged. The lower courts found for Shiley, concluding that California was an inconvenient forum and retained jurisdiction pending the defendants’ compliance with certain conditions that included waiving jurisdiction and statute-of-limitations objections in Sweden and Norway as well as making employees available to testify in Sweden and Norway and to make documents in their possession in the United States available for inspection in Sweden and Norway. The family members appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Mosk, J.)

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