PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CN) – A group of 39 Canadians who were allegedly exposed to asbestos while working for U.S. companies cannot litigate their personal injury and wrongful death claims in Rhode Island, the state Supreme Court ruled.
With this ruling, Rhode Island joined the majority of states in adopting the legal doctrine of forum non conveniens, which would prevent the court from placing an undue burden on defendants to have their cases tried in Rhode Island.
Justice Suttell found that forum non conveniens is applicable in these consolidated cases against several defendants, because the workers are all Canadian citizens. Also, the alleged asbestos exposure took place in Canada.
Suttell ruled that the individual cases should be dismissed in superior court, provided the defendants’ waive a statute of limitations defense in an alternate forum.
Rhode Island has been using the forum non conveniens doctrine only for child custody cases since 1978.