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HEINE v.

NEW YORK INSURANCE COMPANY companies pertaining to the policies in suit in the district, but such records are either at the home
1940| Bean, District J.| Dealing with a Conflicts Problem; Dismissing the Case office in New York or at their offices in Germany.
Digester: Chua, Gian Angelo  The courts of Germany and New York are open and functioning and competent to
take jurisdiction of the controversies, and service can be made upon the defendants
SUMMARY: Defendants were incorporated in New York, had statutory agents in in either of such jurisdictions.
Oregon upon whom summons may be served, and were doing business in Germany.  To require the defendants to defend the actions in this district (Oregon) would
Defendants issued life insurance policies in Germany to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs, thru agents, impose upon them great and unnecessary inconvenience and expense, and probably
sued Defendants in Oregon to recover the amount of some insurance policies issued in compel them to produce here (3,000 miles from their home office) numerous
Germany. Oregon District Court, despite having jurisdiction over the parties and the records, books, and papers, all of which are in daily use by it in taking care of
subject-matter, refused to proceed with the case given that the courts of Germany and current business.
New York were equally competent to take jurisdiction over the parties and subject  In addition, it would no doubt consume months of the time of this court to try and
matter, and given that requiring Defendants to defend in this district would impose dispose of these cases, thus necessarily disarranging the calendar, resulting in delay,
upon them great and unnecessary inconvenience and expense and probably compel inconvenience, and expense to other litigants who are entitled to invoke its
them to produce here (3,000 miles from their home office) numerous records, books, jurisdiction.
and papers.  It is apparent that the plaintiffs are seeking by these actions to impose on the defendants a liability
DOCTRINE: Whether to retain jurisdiction and proceed with the case is matter under a different rule than that under which the parties dealt.
resting in the Court’s discretion. The courts have repeatedly refused, in their discretion,
to entertain jurisdiction of causes of action arising in a foreign jurisdiction, where both Whether the Court has discretion to refuse to proceed with the case – YES.
parties are nonresidents of the forum.
 Plaintiffs argue that, because the court has jurisdiction of the subject-matter and the
parties, it has no discretion, but should proceed with the case, regardless of where
FACTS: (This is an Oregon District Court case. I added some parts from the original, the cause of action arose, or the law by which it is controlled, or the residence or
those in italic, that were not in the book to make the case easier to understand.) convenience of the parties and witnesses, or the difficulty the court would
 Defendants New York Life Insurance Company and Guardian Insurance Company encounter in attempting to interpret and enforce a foreign contract, or the
were incorporated in New York with statutory agents in Oregon, upon whom interference with the other business of the court.
service of summons may be served.  But whether to retain jurisdiction and proceed with the case is matter resting in the
 Defendants acquired the right to do business in Germany, subject to the condition Court’s discretion. It may retain jurisdiction, or it may, in the exercise of a sound
that they were to accede to the supervision and control of German insurance discretion, decline to do so, as the circumstances suggest. The courts have
officials, were to invest proceeds arising from German policies in German repeatedly refused, in their discretion, to entertain jurisdiction of causes of action
securities, and were to establish an office in Germany with an agent upon whom arising in a foreign jurisdiction, where both parties are nonresidents of the forum.
service can be made.  The courts of this country are established and maintained primarily to determine
 Defendants made and issued in Germany insurance policies in favor of German controversies between its own citizens and those having business there, and
citizens and payable in German marks. manifestly the court may protect itself against a flood of litigation over contracts
 In the Oregon District Court, plaintiffs brought, in the name of insured parties in made and to be performed in a foreign country, where the parties and witnesses are
Germany and in the US, an action against defendants to recover on some 240 life nonresidents of the forum, and no reason exists why the liability, if any, cannot be
insurance policies made and issued by the defendants in Germany. enforced in the courts of the country where the cause of action arose, or in the
state where the defendant was organized and has its principal offices. True, the
RULING: Case dismissed. courts of New York have declined to exercise jurisdiction over actions brought on
insurance policies similar to those in suit. But that affords no reason why this court should
Whether the case should instead be brought in Germany or in New York – YES. do so.
 None of the parties to the litigation are residents or inhabitants of this district. The plaintiffs reside  It is unthinkable that residents and citizens of Germany may import bodily into this court
in, and are citizens of, the republic of Germany. The defendants are corporations organized and numerous actions against a nonresident defendant, on contracts made and payable in Germany,
existing under the laws of New York, with their principal offices in that state, with statutory and insist as a matter of right that, because it has obtained jurisdiction of the defendant by service
agents in Oregon, upon whom service can be made. None of the causes of action arose here, nor do of its statutory agent, the taxpayers, citizens, and residents of the district having business in the
any of the material witnesses reside in the district, nor are any of the records of the defendant court should stand aside and wait the conclusion of the case, where, as here, the courts of Germany
and of the home state of the defendant are open and functioning.