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Provincial Government of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc.

Supreme Court of Nevada

June 11, 2015

PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF MARINDUQUE, Appellant,
v.
PLACER DOME, INC.; AND BARRICK GOLD CORPORATION, Respondents

Page 393

Appeal from a district court order granting a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens. Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Valerie Adair, Judge.

Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. and Patrick G. Byrne, Las Vegas; Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. and Neil Peck and Jessica E. Yates, Denver, Colorado; Diamond McCarthy, L.L.P., and James D. McCarthy, Walter J. Scott, David Ammons, and Reda Hicks, Dallas, Texas, for Appellant.

Morris Law Group and Steve L. Morris and Rex D. Garner, Las Vegas; Arnold & Porter LLP and Edward Han, Washington, D.C.; Arent Fox LLP and Martin F. Cunniff, Washington, D.C., for Respondents.

PARRAGUIRRE, J. We concur: Hardesty, C. J., Douglas J., Cherry, J., Saitta, J., Gibbons, J.

OPINION

Page 394

BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.[1]

PARRAGUIRRE, J.

In this appeal, we are asked to determine whether the district court abused its discretion

Page 395

by dismissing a complaint for forum non conveniens when the events giving rise to the complaint occurred in the Republic of the Philippines and the alternative fora are in Canada. Because this matter has no bona fide connection to this state, we conclude that the district court properly exercised its discretion by granting the motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens. We further conclude that the district court imposed appropriate conditions to ensure the adequacy of the alternative fora without requiring appellant to proceed in any particular forum. Accordingly, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Appellant, the Provincial Government of Marinduque (the Province), is a political subdivision of the Republic of the Philippines. Respondent Placer Dome, Inc. (PDI), was incorporated under the laws of British Columbia, Canada. Beginning in the 1950s, a predecessor of PDI formed Marcopper Mining Corporation to undertake mining activities in the Province. This predecessor, and later PDI, held a substantial minority of the shares of Marcopper. According to the Province, PDI and its predecessor controlled all aspects of Marcopper's operations. During the course of Mar copper's operations, several incidents occurred that caused significant environmental degradation and health hazards to the people living in the Province, who are known as Marinduqueños.

These incidents and the harms resulting therefrom were investigated by several organizations, including United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) teams. U.S.G.S. documents regarding the disasters are located in Colorado and Virginia, and U.S.G.S. team members reside throughout the United States. Several participants in medical missions to the Province also reside across the United States. Many witnesses whose testimony would be material to the Province's claims live in the Philippines. Many individuals named in the Province's operative complaint as being involved with Marcopper or PDI live in Canada, but some live in the United States. Few, if any, material witnesses reside in Nevada.

At the time the Province filed its complaint in the district court, PDI subsidiaries owned mining operations in Nevada. Shortly thereafter, PDI and another business entity amalgamated under the laws of Ontario, Canada, to form respondent Barrick Gold Corporation. Barrick's subsidiaries have continued substantial mining operations in Nevada. Barrick and PDI contend that only their subsidiaries conduct business in Nevada and personal jurisdiction is therefore lacking. The Province responds that the corporate veils may be pierced to establish personal jurisdiction in Nevada over both Barrick and PDI.

Barrick and PDI moved to dismiss for forum non conveniens, arguing that either British Columbia, where PDI was incorporated, or Ontario, where Barrick was formed, would provide a better forum for this litigation. The Province opposed this motion and alternatively asked the district court to condition dismissal on Barrick's and PDI's consent to jurisdiction in the Philippines. Because the Province is a foreign plaintiff, the district court gave the Province's choice of a Nevada forum " little deference." The district court found that the Philippines would be the best forum for this litigation and stated that the Province could file a complaint there, but the court refused to condition dismissal on Barrick's and PDI's consent to jurisdiction in the Philippines. The district court further found that either British Columbia or Ontario provided an adequate alternative forum. After analyzing several public and private interest factors, the district court found that dismissal for forum non conveniens was warranted. The district court conditioned dismissal on Barrick's and PDFs (1) waiver of personal jurisdiction, statute of limitations, and forum non conveniens ...


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