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Florida Fourth DCA rules that trial court’s denial of defendant’s forum non conveniens transfer motion so that parties could be compelled to first attend non-binding arbitration was an abuse of discretion

On September 1, 2021, in Graham v. Virgil, No. 4D21-877, the Florida Fourth DCA reversed a trial court order which had denied the motion filed by the defendant in a negligent security case to transfer the case from Broward County to Palm Beach County based on forum non conveniens. The Fourth DCA observed that the incident at issue took place in Palm Beach County on property located in Palm Beach County. Moreover, all the parties and nearly all the witnesses were located in Palm Beach County and the Court concluded that all of the factors enumerated in section 47.122, Florida Statutes, weighed strongly in favor of transfer. The Court noted that the trial court had denied the motion because it wanted the parties to attend non-binding arbitration. The Fourth DCA concluded that this was abuse of discretion, citing Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Est. of Chavez ex rel. Hernandez, 8 So. 3d 1157, 1159 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009) (holding that the trial court abused its discretion in not transferring the action from Miami-Dade County to Lee County in a case where the accident occurred in Lee County, the individuals involved in the accident resided in Lee County at the time of the accident, and the eyewitnesses and first responders resided in Lee County).