In real estate, the expression "location is everything" succinctly expresses the commonly held knowledge that a property's value is largely dependent upon its geographical situation and neighborhood characteristics. In civil lawsuits, location also matters. Jurisdictional determinations and choice of law significantly impact trial outcomes and damages awarded.
Before a trial begins, extremely important decisions must be made. One of the most important decisions concerns the determination of which court holds jurisdiction, or has the right to hear the case. A related determination involves the choice of law, or which state or country's laws are applied to decide the case and any damages as a result.
For the plaintiffs in a case against Robinson Helicopter Co., which is based in Torrance, California, the determination of jurisdiction is of particular significance. The helicopter manufacturing company attempted to move the wrongful death case in which it is a defendant from Southern California to South America. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge recently ruled in favor of the plaintiffs' choice of jurisdiction.
Because product liability law in California differs substantively from Colombian law, the jurisdiction for the trial is especially important. Here, winning plaintiffs may be awarded much more in damages than if the case were heard in Colombia, where the law limits damages to only $10,000 in cases alleging a manufacturing defect. Additionally, Colombia has no jury system, so plaintiffs are left at a disadvantage in making their case before only the judge.
Local California attorneys can represent plaintiffs in wrongful death, products liability or other tort cases against negligent manufacturers no matter which jurisdiction hears the lawsuit. You can learn more about defective product claims at our product liability website.
Source: Daily Breeze, "Suit over Robinson Helicopter deaths must be litigated in U.S., judge says," Nick Green, April 10, 2014