In response to the Supreme Court of Appeals’ decision in Morris v. Crown Equipment Corp., 633 S.E.2d 292 (W.Va. 2006), the West Virginia Legislature has amended the venue statute, West Virginia Code § 56-1-1 and created § 56-1-1a, which is entitled "Forum non conveniens." The new statute enables the trial court to decline to exercise jurisdiction under the doctrine of forum non conveniens and to stay or dismiss the action or dismiss any plaintiff if the court finds that in the interest of justice and for the convenience of the parties, the claim or action would be more properly heard in a forum outside West Virginia.
The statute also provides that a plaintiff’s choice of forum is entitled to great weight, but the plaintiff’s preference may be diminished when the plaintiff is a nonresident and the cause of action did not arise in West Virginia. The statute identifies eight factors for a court to consider when deciding whether to grant a motion to stay or dismiss an action or to dismiss a plaintiff from an action.
I described the facts in Morris in a post on www.health-insurance-litigation.com. There was substantial concern from the business community that the decision in Morris would encourage out-of-state plaintiffs to file suit in West Virginia for claims that arose in states other than West Virginia, and Morris was the subject of substantial debate during the 2007 legislative session which concluded in March. Also, in December 2006, the United States Supreme Court denied the petitions for certiorari filed by the defendants.