Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Lawsuit Over Swiss Bicycle Accident Can Be Tried Here, C.A. Rules
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Californiaís policy interest in the safety of products sold within its borders is strong enough to support a local forum for a lawsuit over a cycling accident that occurred in a foreign country, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday.
Div. Four ruled that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew Jr. did not abuse his discretion when he denied a forum non conveniens motion by the maker and seller of the bicycle.
The panel, in an opinion by Justice Norman Epstein, said the trial judge reasonably balanced the public and private factors favoring and opposing the California forum in the suit against Cannondale, the Connecticut-based manufacturer, and the owner of the Two Wheels One Planet bike shop in Artesia.
The plaintiff, Jean Daniel Roulier, sued here after being injured in the 1998 accident in Switzerland, where he lives. He alleged that the accident resulted from defective design of the bicycle, which he purchased from Two Wheels while on a visit.
In concluding that the case could proceed here, Epstein reasoned that while Switzerland would be a suitable forum, there were strong reasons to try the case here.
Roulier, he noted, has made his medical records available, and has agreed to submit to medical examination in California and to have Swiss medical witnesses deposed via video.
As for public factors, the justice distinguished Stangvik v. Shiley Inc. (1991) 54 Cal.3d 744, which required a foreign forum for a suit over defective artificial heart valves, in part because of court congestion.
Stangvik, Epstein noted, was a mass tort action involving hundreds of witnesses. Roulierís suit, he said, would be simpler.
The plaintiff was represented on appeal by Daniel W. Johnson of Berglund, Johnson & Sommer; the defendant by Jules S. Zeman and Kevin M. Osterberg of Haight, Brown & Bonesteel.
The case is Roulier v. Cannondale, 02 S.O.S. 4749.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company