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Escaping Liability Via Forum Non Conveniens: ConocoPhillips's Oil Spill in China

In 2011...ConocoPhillips’s subsidiary in China caused a massive oil spill in the Bohai Sea. A group of fishermen suffered severe property damage as a result of the oil spill. After a failed attempt to have their complaint heard in a Chinese court, the fishermen sued ConocoPhillips in the United States District Court in Houston, Texas. It is very likely that the Houston District Court will deem the Chinese courts the more appropriate forum for this case...This [paper] argues that the Chinese courts are neither an available nor an adequate forum for mass tort cases involving environmental damage...A superficial examination of Chinese law as written is insufficient, because the laws on the books in China are often disregarded...U.S. courts should allow for a substantial examination of how these laws are implemented when deciding the adequacy of a Chinese forum. Finally, [this paper argues that] it is in the interest of U.S. courts to impose liability on U.S. corporations that inflict tortious acts in foreign countries...

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