Auffert v. Capitales ToursAnnotate this Case
In 2009, on Highway 101 in Monterey County, a bus driver lost control of the vehicle, which collided with bridge rails. The bus, carrying 34 French tourists, rolled; 18 occupants were ejected. Several were thrown over the bridge onto railroad tracks. The driver and four passengers were killed; 21 were severely injured. Capitales Tours and other defendants moved to dismiss or stay California lawsuits, asserting that France was the suitable forum. Plaintiffs argued that most of the documents and witnesses were in California, and that medical personnel and hospitals would likely receive nothing if the cases were transferred. There were more than $5 million in outstanding medical bills. The court found that public and private interest factors favored France because plaintiffs sought application of the French Tourism Code and would require translation. The court stayed the actions for one year. If France accepted jurisdiction, the actions would be dismissed. Capitales initiated proceedings in Paris, but the pretrial judge invoked lis pendens, because the Monterey court had not completely declined jurisdiction. While appeal was pending in France, the California court of appeal affirmed the stay. On remittitur, Capitales moved to dismiss, citing plaintiffs’ failure to initiate proceedings in France and resistance to their jurisdiction. The court dismissed. The court of appeal reversed, holding that further proceedings are necessary before dismissal.