Martinez v. DuPont: A Look at the Future of Forum Non Conveniens in Delaware Commercial Litigation

By: Jacob J. Fedechko

For over fifty years, foreign plaintiffs found Delaware to be a safe forum when brining a lawsuit against a Delaware entity, in part because of the State’s strict forum non conveniens doctrine. But, as a result of the Delaware Supreme Court’s decision in Martinez v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., the burden placed on defendants under the doctrine has been eased. The Supreme Court used Martinez as an opportunity to adjust the overwhelming-hardship standard in a way that will arguably lead to a more practical application of the forum non conveniens doctrine. In light of the case history and prior decisions, however, it is equally likely that this case will produce discord in the application of the doctrine by allowing trial courts to retain jurisdiction over corporate and commercial disputes while clearing their dockets of “less desirable” suits. The judiciary may be able to resolve this discord, should it arise, by turning to public interest factors.