Espinoza v. Evergreen Helicopters, Inc.Annotate this Case
This case arose out of a tragic helicopter crash in a remote part of Peru, which resulted in the deaths of everyone on board. Plaintiffs brought wrongful death actions in Oregon against Evergreen Helicopters, Inc. (Evergreen - an Oregon corporation) that provided the helicopter and the pilot. Evergreen filed motions to dismiss plaintiffs’ actions on forum non conveniens grounds, arguing that Peru was the appropriate forum in which to litigate those cases. The trial court consolidated the cases and granted Evergreen’s motions. Plaintiffs appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed. Although it concluded that the doctrine of forum non conveniens was available in Oregon, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred as a matter of law because it made factual determinations that went to the underlying merits of plaintiffs’ claims and failed to assess the materiality of the documentary and testimonial evidence with respect to the different claims in the complaint. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that forum non conveniens was part of the common law of Oregon and permitted a trial court to dismiss or stay an action under certain circumstances when justice required. The Court disagreed in some respects with the Court of Appeals as to the standards that governed the application of forum non conveniens, but agreed with its decision vacating the trial court judgments and remanding the cases back to the trial court for further proceedings.