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Copyright 1991 Yale Law Journal Company.

Yale Law Journal

ARTICLE: Erie and Court Access.

May, 1991

Yale Law Journal

100 Yale L.J. 1935


Allan R. Stein [+]



"It looks like we'll be doing a lot of business in Texas," my brother predicted. The Supreme Court of Texas had just held that forum non conveniens 1 had been abolished by a 1913 statute providing that a large class of foreign and out-of-state personal injury claims "may be brought in the courts of this state." 2 If a defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction in Texas, the Texas courts are now without authority to dismiss the claim, regardless of its lack of connection with the state.

My brother, a litigator at a Washington, D.C. law firm, was somewhat ambivalent. On the one hand, after Alfaro his corporate clients doing business in Texas would be subjected to Texas litigation for virtually any personal injury claims arising in or outside of the United States, 3 and Texas juries are not known for their pro-defendant sympathies. 4 On the other hand, the fajitas are terrific.

However, the actual burden of Alfaro on out-of-state defendants will turn on a question not addressed by the Texas court, but one that must be foremost in the minds of the federal bar there: To what extent are the federal courts sitting in Texas bound by the state statute abrogating forum non conveniens? 5 If the courts follow the lead of virtually every relevant precedent, they will hold that control of the federal docket is a matter of federal law, and that federal courts are therefore free to issue forum non conveniens dismissals. 6
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