Nation SLP, LLC v. Bruner.
2022 COA 76. No. 21CA0223. Forum Non Conveniens—Final Judgment on the Merits—Issue Preclusion.
July 14, 2022
This action arose from a dispute between investors and businesses created to develop oil and gas properties in Australia. The parties were previously involved in a case filed in the US District Court for the District of Colorado. The federal case was dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds, in light of pending Australian litigation, the defendants’ consent to jurisdiction in Australia, and the fact that Australian law governed most of the claims. No appeal was taken from the dismissal of the federal action, and the Australian case was later dismissed. In the present action, plaintiff alleged that defendants had fraudulently concealed their plans to exclude plaintiff from earnings contracts. Defendants moved to dismiss arguing, among other things, that the federal court’s dismissal of the prior action on forum non conveniens grounds barred the present suit under res judicata. The district court dismissed the case.
On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred by dismissing its case based on the federal court’s dismissal of a variation of the same case on forum non conveniens grounds. Dismissal of an action by a court in another jurisdiction on forum non conveniens grounds is not a judgment on the merits and, thus, does not have preclusive effect on a similar action in a Colorado trial court. Therefore, the district court erred.
The judgment of dismissal was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.