Carijano, et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Corp., et al., No. 08-56187 (9th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, 25 members of the Achuar indigenous group dependent for their existence upon the rainforest lands and waterways along the Rio Corrientes in Peru, and Amazon Watch, a California corporation, sued Occidental Peruana ("OxyPeru") in Los Angeles County Superior Court for environmental contamination and release of hazardous waste. OxyPeru's headquarters were located in Los Angeles County but OxyPeru removed the suit to federal district court where it successfully moved for dismissal on the ground that Peru was a more convenient forum. At issue was whether the district court properly dismissed the suit on the basis of forum non conveniens. The court reversed the dismissal and held that the district court failed to consider all relevant private and public interest factors, entirely overlooking enforceability of judgments factor, which weighed heavily against dismissal. The court also held that the district court correctly assumed that Amazon Watch was a proper domestic plaintiff, but erroneously afforded reduced deference to its chosen forum and ignored the group entirely in the analysis of numerous factors. Therefore, these errors led the district court to misconstrue factors that were neutral or weighed against dismissal, and to strike an unreasonable balance between the factors and deference due a domestic plaintiff's chosen forum. The court further held that the district court abused its discretion by failing to impose conditions on its dismissal that were warranted by facts in the record showing justifiable reasons to doubt OxyPeru's full cooperation in the foreign forum.
This is a revision of a Previous Opinion originally issued on December 6, 2010.