Facts: Alleging that his exposure to asbestos carried home by his father while his father was employed by petitioner Weyerhaeuser Company caused him to develop mesothelioma, respondent Charles Sales filed suit against Weyerhaeuser Company in the Superior Court for Pierce County. Weyerhaeuser Company subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the case for forum non conveniens on grounds that Arkansas is a more convenient forum than Washington given that the exposure to asbestos occurred in Arkansas and that Sales also received his medical treatment there. The trial court granted the motion. Upon appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial court should have conditioned its dismissal upon a stipulation by Weyerhaeuser Company that it would proceed in the state courts of Arkansas rather than remove the case to federal court given that removal would likely result in the case being transferred to a federal district court in Pennsylvania pursuant to the federal multidistrict protocol for asbestos cases. Weyerhaeuser Company appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Should the trial court have considered the possibility of the case being removed to federal court and subsequently transferred in deciding whether to dismiss the case for forum non conveniens?
Conclusion: Justice Owens’ opinion for a unanimous Court affirmed the Washington Court of Appeals, concluding that the trial court should have considered the effects of the potential removal and transfer of the case upon the convenience of litigating the case in Arkansas rather than in Washington and could have conditioned its dismissal of the case for forum non conveniens upon a stipulation by Weyerhaeuser Company that it would proceed in the state courts of Arkansas rather than remove the case to federal court. Thus, the Court remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to take into account the potential effect of the federal multidistrict protocol for asbestos upon the convenience of litigating the case in Arkansas.
Petitioner: Weyerhaeuser Company
(Counsel: Diane J. Kero, Gordon Thomas Honeywell, and Elizabeth Pike Martin)
Respondent: Charles Sales
(Counsel: Matthew Phineas Bergman, David S. Frockt, Brian F. Ladenburg, John Wentworth Phillips, and John Matthew Geyman)
- Amicus - Boeing
- Amicus - Coalition for Litigation Justice
- Amicus - WA Business
- Answer to Petition for Review
- Appellant's Brief
- Petition for Review
- Petitioner's Supplemental Brief
- Reply Brief of Appellant
- Respondent's Answer to Amicus
- Respondent's Answer to Amicus - Coalition
- Respondent's Supplemental Brief
- Respondents Brief
- Statement Additional Authority
Argument: Thursday, November 29, 2007 10:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, February 7th, 2008
Prevailing Party: Charles Sales (Respondent)
Court: Alexander4 Court (2008-2009)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.