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Grenfell survivors to take legal action in the US - expert comment

Grenfell survivors are reported to be instigating legal action against cladding maker Arconic, insulation maker Celotex and fridge supplier Whirlpool in the US courts, under product liability laws. Dr Bill O'Brian Jr, Associate Professor in Warwick Law School, comments:-

“In general, I would say that the main advantage of proceeding in Pennsylvania is that actions such as this are tried before juries there but before judges in this country. There are some other differences between procedures but these are no longer as significant as they once were.

“It is however very likely that the defendants will seek to have the case dismissed under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, pursuant to which the court has discretion to dismiss a case that can be more properly tried in another jurisdiction. The argument would be that the case should be tried in England as that is where the fire took place.

"Decisions under that doctrine are highly fact-specific and discretionary, and tend to hinge on issues such as access to witnesses and relevant documents, the law that is likely to govern, the ease of enforcing judgments abroad, and the ability to join other parties that might be liable in each jurisdiction. It is difficult to predict the outcome of such a motion to dismiss.”

  • Dr O'Brian joined the Law School of the University of Warwick in 2001 following seventeen years as a practicing lawyer in the United States, specialising in commercial litigation. He teaches Tort Law, International Commercial Litigation, International Arbitration and Economic Analysis of Law.

10 June 2019




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