The FOUNDING CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF WASHINGTON, D. C., Appellant,
Heinrich Bauer VERLAG et al.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued Oct. 22, 1975.
Decided June 1, 1976.
Religious organization brought libel action against, inter alia, distributor
of West German magazine which contained allegedly libelous article. The
District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed for want of jurisdiction
and religious organization appealed. The Court of Appeals, MacKinnon, Circuit
Judge, held that distributor which had sales of $26,000 in ten-month period
within the District of Columbia, representing one percent of the gross revenues
of the distributor for that ten-month period, had sufficient contact with the
District to permit assertion of long-arm jurisdiction over it; and that court
erred in dismissing on grounds of forum non conveniens where both plaintiff and
defendant were residents of the United States and where plaintiff sought
damages for libelous publication in the District of Columbia, even though the
article was written and published in West Germany and even though certain West
German residents had initially been defendants in the action.
In order for court to properly assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant, service of process over the nonresident must be authorized by
statute and be within the limits set by the due process clause of the
constitution. U.S.C.A.Const. Amend. 14.
 FEDERAL COURTS
Connection with the District of Columbia sufficient to authorize assertion of
personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant can be demonstrated under
the District's long-arm statute only by proving that the defendant has one of
three types of contact with the district and that the connection at least
evinces the minimum contacts with the District sufficient to satisfy
traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. D.C.C.E. s 13-
Because their similarly worded statutes also derive from the Uniform Interstate
and International Procedure Act, decisions construing Maryland and Virginia
long-arm statutes are entitled to substantial weight in considering long-arm
statute of the District of Columbia. D.C.C.E. s 13-423(a)(4); Code Md.1957,
art. 75, s 96(a)(4); Code Va.1950, s 8-81.2(a)(4).
 FEDERAL COURTS
In order to show the reasonable connection necessary for assertion of long-arm
jurisdiction over a defendant on the basis of its having derived substantial
income for goods used or consumed in the jurisdiction, court must look both at
the absolute amount of revenues and the percentage of total revenues
represented by activities in the jurisdiction. D.C.C.E. s 13-423(a)(4).
 FEDERAL COURTS
Distributor which had its principal offices in city of New York, which received
German-language magazines from West Germany and forwarded them by common
carrier to another distributor in the District of Columbia, which had sales of
$26,000 in the District in the first ten months of the year, with such sales
representing approximately one percent of its gross revenues for the ten-month
period, had, on the basis of income derived from the District, reasonable
connection with the District so that District could assert long-arm
jurisdiction over the distributor with respect to allegedly libelous magazine
article. D.C.C.E. s 13-423(a)(4).
 FEDERAL COURTS
Distributor which engaged in the distribution of magazines outside the area of
their immediate circulation and which did not engage in news-gathering
activities in the District of Columbia could not assert protection of news-
gathering exception to assertion of long-arm jurisdiction over it. D.C.C.E. s
 FEDERAL COURTS
Statutory reference to "any District of Columbia court" in forum non
conveniens statute does not include federal courts in the District of
Columbia. D.C.C.E. s 13-425.
See publication Words and Phrases for other judicial constructions and
 FEDERAL COURTS
Federal courts have the power to refuse jurisdiction over cases which
should have been brought in a foreign jurisdiction rather than in the
United States but a foreign jurisdiction cannot necessarily be considered more
suitable and convenient forum in which to require the rights of the parties to
 FEDERAL COURTS
Where both allegedly defamed plaintiff and distributor of magazine were
residents of the United States, where plaintiff sought damages for libelous
publication in the District of Columbia, and where bringing of action in the
District of Columbia was not prompted by an intent to vex or harass, it was
error for trial court to decline jurisdiction on basis of forum non conveniens
merely because the magazine in question had been written and published in West
 FEDERAL COURTS
Trial judge has great, but not unlimited, discretion to apply doctrine of forum
non conveniens; where there has been no weighing of relative advantages of
each forum but only a consideration of the drawbacks of one, that discretion
has been abused.
*431 **404 Appeal from the United States District Court, for the District
Samuel H. Seymour, Washington, D. C., for appellant. Earl C. Dudley, Jr.,
Arlington, Va., was on the brief for appellant.
Irvin B. Nathan, Washington, D. C., with whom Edgar H. Brenner and Werner
Kronstein, Washington, D. C., were on the brief for appellee German Language
Before McGOWAN and MacKINNON, Circuit Judges, and McMILLAN,[FN*] United States
District Judge for the Western District of North Carolina.
FN* Sitting by designation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. s 292(d).
Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge MacKINNON.
MacKINNON, Circuit Judge.
In this diversity action the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, D.
C.[FN1] sued (1) the author, editor, publisher, and distributor of an allegedly
defamatory article which appeared in the July 1973 edition of the German-
language magazine Neue Revue, and (2) an official of the West German federal
criminal investigating authority who allegedly aided in the preparation of that
publication.[FN2] The district court dismissed the suit on the grounds (1)
that it lacked personal jurisdiction over any of the defendants under the
District of Columbia "long arm" statute [FN3] and (2) that suit in the District
of Columbia was barred under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. [FN4]
Appeal *432 **405 was then filed as to all defendants, but appellant later
consented to dismissal as to all appellees except the distributor, a New York
corporation, German Language Publications, Inc. (GLP).[FN5] As regards this
one remaining appellee we disagree that the action should have been dismissed,
FN1. The Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, D. C., is a
nonprofit corporation, organized under the laws of the District of
Columbia, which engages in the active exercise, practice, and
proselytization of "Scientology" in the District of Columbia. App. 1. It
will hereinafter be referred to as the "Church" or the "Church of
Scientology." The Church is apparently affiliated in some way with other
churches of Scientology in other jurisdictions, both domestic and foreign,
but the exact nature of this relationship does not appear in the record.
FN2. The article, which appears in English translation at App. 9-12,
describes the terrorization of two women by West German Scientologists,
reports on the recruitment there of new "victims" of Scientology, and notes
an investigation into the activities of Scientologists by the West German
Federal Criminal Affairs Bureau.
Of a total of approximately 1,400,000 copies of the issue in question, 56
reached the District of Columbia where they were distributed to four news
dealers who are not parties to this action; of the 56 copies, 30 were sold
and the rest returned.
FN3. D.C.Code s 13-423 (1973).
FN4. Virtually identical suits in New York and California have been
dismissed on these two grounds. See Church of Scientology of California v.
Herold, No. C-66230 (Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, March
12, 1974); 172 N.Y.L.J. No. 1 at 13 (July 1, 1974) (Appellee's Supp.
Appendix at 8). Other suits have been filed in West Germany (both Munich
and Wiesbaden), Holland, and Canada. On October 21, 1975, the appellee
filed with this court a copy of a November 1974 decision by the Wiesbaden
court holding that the article was not defamatory under German law; the
Wiesbaden action was therefore dismissed.
FN5. Appellee German Language Publications is a New York Corporation with
its principal offices in the city of New York. It has no office, employees
or agents in the District of Columbia. App. 13. It is not licensed to do
business in the District, and does not engage in solicitation or bill-
collecting activities therein. App. 15. Its sole connection with the
District is to receive German-language magazines from West Germany and to
forward them by common carrier to Prudential News in the District, which in
turn delivers them to four independent news dealers for ultimate resale.
App. 14. GLP received approximately one percent of its gross revenues, or
$26,202.63, from magazines sold in the District during the first ten months
of 1973. App. 15.
 In order for a court to properly assert personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant, service of process over the nonresident must be
authorized by statute and be within the limits set by the due process clause of
the United States Constitution. International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326
U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945). In the District of Columbia, the
relevant "long arm" statute provides:
(a) a District of Columbia court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a
person, who acts directly or by an agent, as to a claim for relief arising from
(4) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission
outside the District of Columbia if he regularly does or solicits business,
engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial
revenue from goods used or consumed, or services rendered, in the District of
D.C.Code s 13-423(a)(4) (1973) (emphasis added).
 The District of Columbia "long arm" statute is a slightly modified
version of the Uniform Interstate and International Procedure Act, 13 U.L.A.
285, s 1.03 (1975), which was drafted by the National Conference of
Commissioners on Uniform State Laws several years after the famous decision in
Gray v. American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp., 22 Ill.2d 432, 176
N.E.2d 761 (1961), interpreted the Illinois long-arm statute to cover a
nonresident defendant who had no connection with the state except that it had
acted negligently out of state, causing injury within the state. The Uniform
Act (and derivatively the D.C.Code) draws back from the limits set by expansive
opinions such as Gray, and "was presumably devised to obviate any possible
due process objections." Margoles v. Johns, 157 U.S.App.D.C. 209, 213, 483
F.2d 1212, 1216 (1973). Consistent with this intent, section 423(a)(4)
requires, in addition to conduct outside the District which causes injury
within the District, some other reasonable connection between the District and
the defendant. Viewed in light of the statute's history, such a connection
sufficient to authorize the assertion of personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant can be demonstrated only by proving that the defendant
has one of three types of contact with the District and that the connection at
least evinces the minimum contact with the District sufficient to satisfy
traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. See International
Shoe Co. v. Washington, supra, 326 U.S. at 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95.
 One way in which this "reasonable connection" can be shown under
the Uniform Act and D.C.Code s 13-423(a)(4), is by demonstrating that the
defendant has derived "substantial income" from goods used or consumed in the
jurisdiction. In the case now before us, GLP has obtained gross revenues in
excess of $26,000 over a period of ten months from sales made in the
District-- **406 *433 approximately one percent of its total gross
revenues.[FN6] In apparently the only District of Columbia case to interpret
this phrase, the court stated that "the test is a qualitative one, that is, a
comparison of the revenue relating to the locally used article and total
revenue is required." Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. American Pecco Corp.,
334 F.Supp. 522 (D.D.C.1971). We agree, but feel that the test must embrace
more than this. Because their similarly-worded statutes also derive from the
Uniform Interstate and International Procedure Act, we think the decisions
construing the Maryland [FN7] and Virginia [FN8] "long-arm" statutes are
entitled to substantial weight in our consideration.[FN9] In holding that
$37,000 worth of window frames sold in Virginia amounted to "substantial
revenue" despite the fact that it was only one-half of one percent of the
nonresident manufacturer's sales, the Fourth Circuit in Ajax Realty Corp. v.
J. F. Zook, Inc., 493 F.2d 818 (4th Cir. 1972), stated the following test:
FN6. See note 5 supra.
FN7. Code Md.1957, art. 75, s 96(a)(4).
FN8. 2 Code of Virginia Ann. s 8-81.2(a)(4) (1975 Supp.).
FN9. If anything can be ascertained from the (legislative) history it
must be that Congress' overall intent (in enacting D.C.Code s 13-423)
was to provide the District's courts, to the greatest extent possible, with
essentially identical long-arm jurisdiction as was then available in
Maryland and Virginia.
Margoles v. Johns, 157 U.S.App.D.C. 209, 212-13, 483 F.2d 1212, 1215-16
* * * Although percentage of total sales may be a factor to be considered, it
cannot be dispositive, for a small percentage of the sales of a corporate giant
may indeed prove substantial in an absolute sense. 5 On the other hand, it is
difficult to identify an absolute amount which ipso facto must be deemed
FN5 Conversely, a relatively small absolute amount might be deemed
"substantial" where it constitutes a significant percentage of a small
corporation's total sales.
Accord, Egeria, Societa di Navigazione Per Azioni v. Orinoco Mining Co.,
360 F.Supp. 997, 1002 (D.Md.1973).[FN10] Thus the test looks both at the
absolute amount and at the percentage of total sales, and determines what is
"substantial" on the facts of each case. Here, recognizing the low unit price
of each magazine, we think that sales of $26,000 in ten months constitute
"substantial revenue" and demonstrate contacts that are sufficiently
substantial to establish the "reasonable connection" with the District required
by D.C.Code s 13-423 and the Constitution.
FN10. See also Note, The Virginia "Long Arm" Statute, 51 Va.L.Rev. 719,
749 (1965), encouraging a "non restrictive, liberal view of the conditions
in subsection (4)."
In denying personal jurisdiction over the defendants in this case, the
district judge cited Margoles v. Johns, supra, a 1973 decision of this
court, in which we affirmed a denial of personal jurisdiction under D.C.Code
s 13-423 in a libel action against a nonresident newspaper publisher who
maintained only what are essentially news gathering offices in the District.
The ground for our refusal to find jurisdiction under section (a)(4) of the
"long arm" statute in that case was what has become known in the District of
Columbia as the "newsgathering exception": in minimal contact situations, the
First Amendment protects newsgathering activities in the nation's capital and
weighs against the assumption of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
publisher. See also Bulletin Co. v. Origoni, 128 U.S.App.D.C. 282, 387 F.2d
240, cert. denied, 389 U.S. 928, 88 S.Ct. 287, 19 L.Ed.2d 278 (1967);
Layne v. Tribune Co., 63 App.D.C. 213, 71 F.2d 223, cert. denied, 293
U.S. 572, 55 S.Ct. 83, 79 L.Ed. 670 (1934); Neely v. Philadelphia Inquirer
Co., 61 App.D.C. 334, 62 F.2d 873 (1932). Appellee here contends that this
exception is broad enough to cover news dissemination as well as newsgathering,
since the former "is surely more at the core of guaranteed First Amendment
rights than news gathering." [FN11] We disagree.
FN11. Appellee's Brief at 32.
The purpose of the newsgathering exception was well expressed by the opinion
that established it:
*434 **407 As the seat of national government, Washington is the source
of much news of national importance, which makes it desirable in the public
interest that many newspapers should maintain vigilant correspondents here. If
the employment of a Washington correspondent, the announcement of his address,
and the payment of his office rent, subjects a non-resident newspaper
corporation to legal process in Washington for matter appearing in its paper at
home, it would bring in nearly every important newspaper in the nation, and
many foreign publishing corporations, which in our opinion the present statute
does not do.
Neeley v. Philadelphia Inquirer Co., supra at 875. Thus what is being
protected by the news gathering exemption is the right of subscribers within
the area of immediate circulation of a newspaper or magazine [FN12] to receive
news of national interest which must be gathered in the District of Columbia.
This is quite different from interpreting the exemption to protect the right of
a publisher to distribute his product without responsibility in foreign
jurisdictions. To subject a nonresident publisher to suit in the District
merely because he gathers news here for dissemination elsewhere would severely
constrict the flow of national news to his local subscribers. Viewed this way,
however, the newsgathering exception would not prohibit suits against
publishers whose area of immediate circulation includes the District, nor
against those who distribute publications in the District which have an area of
primary circulation elsewhere. In the former case, the publisher is
essentially a local publisher and should be subject to suit here; in the latter
case, the suit, being against the importing distributor rather than the
publisher, will have no effect on the primary distribution of the newspaper or
FN12. The existence of a newspaper, no matter how popular, depends
primarily upon circulation in the vicinity of its publication. Circulation
in other areas may well be welcomed, but it is not critical to the
newspaper's continued existence. Circulation beyond the vicinity of
publication can be characterized as "passive" in that it is a product of
the publication's excellence rather than of a business effort of active
solicitation in all areas of the nation.
Curtis Publishing Co. v. Golino, 383 F.2d 586, 590 (5th Cir. 1967).
 In the instant case, GLP engages in the distribution of magazines
outside the area of their immediate circulation and does not engage in any
newsgathering activities in the District. Thus, it has no proper claim to the
protection of the newsgathering exception, and we refuse to expand that
exception to bar this suit.
Forum Non Conveniens
 The common law doctrine of forum non conveniens is codified by
D.C.Code s 13-425 (1973), which provides:
When any District of Columbia court finds that in the interest of substantial
justice the action should be heard in another form, the court may stay or
dismiss such civil action in whole or in part on any conditions that may be
FN13. This District of Columbia statute was relied on by the district
court in ruling on the forum non conveniens issue. App. 18-19. The
statutory reference to "any District of Columbia court," however, does not
include federal courts in the District of Columbia. Aiken v. Lustine
Chevrolet, Inc., 392 F.Supp. 883, 887 n.16 (D.D.C.1975). Moreover, there is
a split of authority on the question of whether federal courts in diversity
cases are required to apply the local rule of forum non conveniens under
the doctrine of Erie R. R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S.Ct. 817,
82 L.Ed. 1188 (1938). Compare Weiss v. Routh, 149 F.2d 193 (2d Cir.
1945), with Gilbert v. Gulf Oil Corp., 153 F.2d 883 (2d Cir. 1946),
rev'd on other grounds, 330 U.S. 501, 67 S.Ct. 839, 91 L.Ed. 1055
(1947). See also 1A-2 J. Moore, Federal Practice P 0.317(2) (1974). The
Supreme Court has twice refused to rule on this point. Gilbert v. Gulf
Oil Corp., 330 U.S. 501, 509, 67 S.Ct. 839, 91 L.Ed. 1055 (1947);
Williams v. Green Bay & Western R. R. Co., 326 U.S. 549, 558-59, 66
S.Ct. 284, 90 L.Ed. 31 (1946). Although the issue has never been
squarely addressed by this court, federal courts in the District have in
practice used the federal law of forum non conveniens. See Altman v.
Central of Georgia Ry., 124 U.S.App.D.C. 155, 363 F.2d 284, cert. denied,
385 U.S. 920, 87 S.Ct. 231, 17 L.Ed.2d 144 (1966); Aiken v. Lustine
Chevrolet, supra. In any case, the law of forum non conveniens in the
District of Columbia appears to be identical to federal law on the point at
issue in this case. See Dorati v. Dorati, 342 A.2d 18 (D.C.App.1975).
Therefore, we do not decide whether the district court was correct in
holding that the District of Columbia statute controls on this point.
*435 **408 Pursuant to this statute and the common law, the district
court found forum non conveniens to be an alternative ground for dismissal in
the present case. On appeal, appellee GLP makes no argument that any other
domestic jurisdiction would be a better forum for this suit, but only argues
that the case should be dismissed in favor of a trial in West Germany, where
GLP has pledged to submit to the jurisdiction of the German court.[FN14]
FN14. Appellee's Brief at 9-10. Compare Dorati v. Dorati, 342 A.2d 18,
20 n.3 (D.C.App.1975).
 It has long been recognized that federal courts have the power to refuse
jurisdiction over cases which should have been brought in a foreign
jurisdiction, rather than in the United States. Prack v. Weissinger, 276
F.2d 446, 448 (4th Cir. 1960); Vanity Fair Mills v. T. Eaton Co., 234 F.2d
633, 645 (2d Cir. 1956); Wilson v. Kansas City Southern Ry., 101 F.Supp. 56,
60 (W.D.Mo.1951); Latimer v. S/A Industries Reunidas F. Matarazzo, 91
F.Supp. 469, 470 (S.D.N.Y.1950); De Sairigne v. Gould, 83 F.Supp. 270, 273
(S.D.N.Y.1949). However, a foreign jurisdiction cannot necessarily be
considered "a more suitable and convenient forum in which to require the rights
of the parties to be determined." North Branch Products, Inc. v. Fisher,
109 U.S.App.D.C. 182, 284 F.2d 611 (1960), cert. denied, 365 U.S. 827, 81
S.Ct. 713, 5 L.Ed.2d 705 (1961). "The doctrine that a United States citizen
does not have an absolute right to use United States courts usually is
expressed in the context of a citizen doing business abroad expecting still to
use United States courts." Thompson v. Palmieri, 355 F.2d 64, 65 (2d Cir.
1966). Moreover, "(m)ost (cases that dismiss on this ground) require that the
defendant be vexed and harassed by plaintiff's choice of forum. And usually
the defendant was not a United States citizen or resident, and was only served
because of minimal contacts with the forum." Id. at 66.
 We think it to be of great significance that both plaintiff and the
remaining defendant here are residents of the United States and that plaintiff
seeks damages for a libelous publication in the District of Columbia.
Complaint at P 11. In incorporating in this country and locating here, they
have in effect signified their willingness to be sued in American courts.
Cf. Dorati v. Dorati, 342 A.2d 18, 22 (D.C.App.1975). Only two cases have
been located where, although the incident forming the basis of the suit had
occurred in a foreign jurisdiction, both of the parties were residents of the
United States. See Burt v. Isthmus Development Co., 218 F.2d 353 (5th Cir.
1955); Horovitz v. Renault, Inc., 162 F.Supp. 344 (S.D.N.Y.1958). Dismissal
was denied in both. In Burt, supra at 357, the Fifth Circuit stated:
It strikes us as being inconsistent with the very purpose and function of the
federal courts to hold that one may decline to hear a case and thereby in
effect decree that a citizen must go to a foreign country to seek redress of an
alleged wrong. Nevertheless, because we are of the belief that it is
unnecessary to do so here, we are not prepared flatly to hold that no
discretion exists in any such case to decline jurisdiction. Experience has
taught that such a holding may prove unsound in extreme cases; and the Supreme
Court in the Swift case (Swift & Co. Packers v. Compania Columbiana Del
Caribe, S. A., 339 U.S. 684, 70 S.Ct. 861, 94 L.Ed. 1206 (1950)) declined to
pass upon a similar point. We leave that question open.
We do, however, express the view that courts should require positive evidence
of unusually extreme circumstances, and should be thoroughly convinced that
material injustice is manifest before exercising any such discretion to deny a
citizen access to the courts of this country.
Finding no extreme circumstances or manifest injustice, the court reversed the
order *436 **409 of the district court dismissing a suit by a Texas
citizen against a New York citizen over transactions governed by Mexican law.
The court specifically rejected the arguments of appellee that all its
operations were carried on primarily in Mexico, that all the witnesses were in
Mexico, and that an American court would encounter difficulties in applying
foreign law. None of these circumstances was considered sufficient to overcome
the policy in favor of hearing suits between American residents in a United
States court. See also Vanity Fair Mills, supra at 646; Horovitz, supra
at 346; Garrity v. United States, 67 F.Supp. 821, 107 Ct. of Cl. 92
Similar arguments have been made in the case now before us. Although there may
be circumstances in which dismissal to avoid the complexities of foreign law
can be justified,[FN15] that is not the case here. Even if the district court
should decide on remand that the defamatory character of the article in
question is to be determined under German law, a question about which we
express no opinion, we note that this issue has already been decided by at
least one West German court.[FN16] Moreover, the case presents important
questions such as the knowledge of the distributor of the article's libelous
content which will turn on evidence collected in the United States, and
questions which may be controlled by local law.[FN17] Similarly, though the
defense may intend to call almost exclusively German witnesses, the plaintiff
will as a practical matter be required to call many witnesses from this
country; and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure make some provision for
obtaining the foreign testimony and evidence that may be required.[FN18] The
risk that foreign evidence cannot be obtained is no greater in federal court in
the District of Columbia than it would be in a West German court. Finally, to
the extent that language differences present problems, interpreters are
available under Fed.R.Civ.P. 43(f).
FN15. But see Fed.R.Civ.P. 44.1.
FN16. See note 4 supra.
FN17. For example, the district judge indicated in his memorandum opinion
that, even if he were to reach the merits, the action would in all
probability be barred by the District of Columbia "single publication"
rule, which the court apparently interpreted to mean that only one
plaintiff may institute a defamation action based upon a single alleged
libel in one edition of a magazine. App. 19. We think this may
misconstrue the purpose of that rule. Cf. Buckley v. New York Post
Corp., 373 F.2d 175 (2d Cir. 1967); W. Prosser, Torts 769-70 (4th ed.
FN18. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 28(b), 37(e), 45(e)(2). See also
Thomson v. Palmieri, 355 F.2d 64, 66 (2d Cir. 1966): "Presumably the
witnesses employed by the defendant corporation can be examined in the
United Kingdom, by letters rogatory enforced by comity accorded the United
States court by United Kingdom courts."
 In Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 67 S.Ct. 839, 843,
91 L.Ed. 1055 (1947), the Supreme Court held:
It is often said that the plaintiff may not, by choice of an inconvenient
forum, "vex," "harass," or "oppress" the defendant by inflicting upon him
expense or trouble not necessary to his own right to pursue his remedy. But
unless the balance is strongly in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff's
choice of forum should rarely be disturbed.
Our weighing of the relative advantages and obstacles to a fair trial [FN19]
in the District convinces us that, while it is a somewhat inconvenient forum
for the defendant, it is by no means apparent that the choice has been prompted
by an intent to vex or harass. See Wheeler v. Societe Nationale Des Chemins
De Fer Francais, 108 F.Supp. 652, 653 (S.D.N.Y.1952); Latimer v. S/A
Industrias Reunidas F. Matarazzo, 91 F.Supp. 469, 471 (S.D.N.Y.1950). A trial
judge has great but not unlimited discretion to apply the doctrine of forum non
conveniens. Where, as here, there has been no weighing of the relative
advantages of each forum but only a consideration of the drawbacks of one, that
discretion has been abused.
FN19. Gulf Oil Co. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 67 S.Ct. 839, 91
L.Ed. 1055 (1947).