Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

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The case revolves around EIG, an American investment fund, which lost $221 million after investing in a project to exploit newly discovered oil reserves off the coast of Brazil. The project was led by Petróleo Brasileiro, S.A. (Petrobras), Brazil’s state-owned oil company. A criminal investigation later revealed that Petrobras executives were accepting bribes from contractors and sharing the proceeds among themselves and Brazilian politicians. When this corruption was exposed, the project's lenders withdrew, causing the project to collapse and EIG’s investment to become worthless.The District Court for the District of Columbia had previously denied Petrobras' motion to dismiss the case, arguing that it was immune from liability under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The court held that EIG had sufficiently alleged that Petrobras’ fraud had a "direct effect in the United States" and therefore fell within the direct-effect exception to the FSIA.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision. The court concluded that Petrobras had caused a direct effect in the United States because it had engaged with EIG in a sustained course of dealing over many months that conveyed its desire to obtain an investment from EIG. The court also found that the direct effect in the United States was not the result of happenstance or coincidence. It was wholly foreseeable, given that Petrobras had contemplated and tried to attract U.S. investment. The court therefore affirmed the district court’s denial of Petrobras’ assertion of foreign sovereign immunity at this stage and remanded for further proceedings. View "EIG Energy Fund XIV, L.P. v. Petroleo Brasileiro, S.A." on Justia Law

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The case involves El Shafee Elsheikh, a former citizen of the United Kingdom who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in 2012. Along with others, Elsheikh captured and held hostage several foreign nationals, including United States and United Kingdom citizens. Some hostages were released, while others were executed, with their deaths featured in ISIS propaganda materials. The hostages referred to their captors as "the Beatles" due to their British accents. Elsheikh was captured in 2018 by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) while attempting to flee Syria.In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Elsheikh was indicted on eight counts, including conspiracy to commit hostage taking, resulting in death, hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States, and conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated terrorist organization (ISIS), resulting in death. Elsheikh was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to eight terms of life imprisonment.In the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Elsheikh appealed his convictions, challenging the admissibility of certain evidence against him at trial. The court affirmed Elsheikh’s convictions and sentences, finding no reversible errors occurred during the trial. The court concluded that Elsheikh received a fair trial as guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. View "United States v. El Elsheikh" on Justia Law

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The case involves a contract dispute between Brands International Corporation, a Canadian manufacturer of hand sanitizer, and Reach Companies, LLC, a Minnesota retail distributor. In 2020, Reach contracted with Brands for 1,000,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to be delivered directly to Reach’s customer, Five Below. The parties agreed to “cash on delivery” terms. Brands began shipping hand sanitizer to individual Five Below stores. Brands made three deliveries, all of which were accepted by Five Below. Brands informed Reach of the deliveries, and Five Below paid Reach for the hand sanitizer, but Reach did not pay Brands. As a result of Reach’s failure to pay, Brands informed Reach that it would no longer deliver hand sanitizer to Five Below on Reach’s behalf. Brands then invoiced Reach for the contract price for the delivered hand sanitizer. Reach still did not pay and ceased communicating with Brands. Brands then filed suit against Reach for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, account stated, and unpaid goods and services. Reach counterclaimed for breach of contract.The parties cross-moved for summary judgment on their contract claims. They disagreed on the applicable law: Brands asserted that the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) applied, while Reach asserted that Minnesota law applied. The district court determined that the CISG governed and that Reach had breached the contract. The district court granted summary judgment to Brands on the parties’ competing breach-of-contract claims, granted summary judgment to Reach on Brands’s unjust-enrichment and account-stated claims, dismissed all other claims, and awarded Brands the contract price for the delivered hand sanitizer. The district court also found that the CISG authorized the award of attorney’s fees and so awarded Brands attorney’s fees. Reach appealed.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment but reversed the award of attorney’s fees. The court found that the CISG governed the dispute and that Reach had breached the contract by failing to pay Brands upon delivery of the hand sanitizer. The court also found that Brands was entitled to recover damages based on Reach’s breach of the contract. However, the court held that the CISG does not authorize an award of attorney’s fees, and thus, the district court erred in awarding those fees to Brands. View "Brands International Corp. v. Reach Companies, LLC" on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute over the ownership of a painting by Bernardo Bellotto, which was sold under duress by Max Emden during the Nazi persecution of Jews prior to World War II. The painting was later found in a salt mine in Austria by the Monuments Men, a group of U.S. military officers tasked with facilitating the restitution of art stolen by the Nazis. The painting was mistakenly sent to the Netherlands to fulfill a claim by a gallery in Amsterdam, but the painting was actually a replica painted by Bellotto himself, not the gallery's version. The painting was eventually sent to the United States and is currently housed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. The heirs of Max Emden, the original owner, are seeking to recover the painting.The case was initially heard in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, which dismissed the claim due to the act of state doctrine. This doctrine prohibits U.S. courts from questioning the actions of a foreign government, in this case, the Dutch government's decision to send the painting to the United States.The case was then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court affirmed the lower court's decision, agreeing that the act of state doctrine applies in this case. The court held that any evaluation of the painting's ownership would require questioning the Dutch government's actions, which is prohibited by the act of state doctrine. The court also rejected the plaintiffs' arguments that the doctrine should not apply because the Dutch government's actions were not official, there would be no negative impact on foreign relations, and the act was not solely within the Netherlands. The court concluded that the act of state doctrine bars U.S. courts from questioning the validity of the Dutch government's actions. View "Emden v. Museum of Fine Arts" on Justia Law

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The case involves Bainbridge Fund Ltd. (Bainbridge), which sought to attach property owned by the Republic of Argentina (Argentina) in partial satisfaction of a judgment entered against Argentina in 2020. The property in question, the Chancery Annex, was a building owned by Argentina in Washington, D.C. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) stipulates that the property of a foreign sovereign cannot be attached unless the sovereign waives immunity and the property is used for commercial activity in the United States. The district court denied Bainbridge’s application after finding that the property in question is not used for commercial activity.Previously, in the Southern District of New York, Bainbridge obtained a judgment against Argentina for $95,424,899.38, arising out of Argentina’s default on a bond owned by Bainbridge. The bond contained a waiver of sovereign immunity by Argentina. Bainbridge sought to attach and execute upon the Chancery Annex to satisfy the judgment in part.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Bainbridge’s application. The court found that the Chancery Annex was not “used for commercial activity” at the time of filing. The court also rejected Bainbridge's argument that Argentina had waived the “commercial activity” requirement under Section 1610(a) of the FSIA. The court held that the bond did not evince an explicit promise or intent by Argentina not to raise FSIA defenses. View "Bainbridge Fund Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law

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The case involves three organizations of Spanish olive producers (collectively “Asemesa”) who appealed a decision by the Court of International Trade (“the Trade Court”) regarding a countervailing duty imposed on olives imported from Spain. Asemesa argued that an order from the Department of Commerce imposing a countervailing duty on imported olives was contrary to law and that the Trade Court should have overturned the order. The United States and the Coalition for Fair Trade in Ripe Olives argued that Commerce’s factual findings were supported by substantial evidence and that the Trade Court’s decision should be upheld.The Trade Court had previously reversed a decision by Commerce, concluding that the evidence that table olives accounted for 8 percent of the demand for raw olives did not show that the demand for raw olives was “substantially dependent” on the demand for table olives. The case was remanded to Commerce for further analysis. On remand, Commerce redefined the market for the prior stage product as the raw olives that the olive industry considers principally suitable for use in the production of table olives. The Trade Court rejected Commerce’s analysis, reasoning that Commerce’s market definition would “render the requirements of Section 1677–2 largely self-fulfilling.” The case was remanded to Commerce for a second time to correctly define the relevant market for the prior stage product and analyze whether the demand for the prior stage product was substantially dependent on the demand for table olives.On the second remand, Commerce again redefined the relevant market for the prior stage product, this time defining that market as consisting of the olives from varietals that the Spanish government considers suitable for processing into table olives, including dual-use varietals. Commerce calculated that 55.28 percent of all olives from varietals suitable for processing into table olives were indeed sold as table olives. Commerce adopted the Trade Court’s interpretation of the “substantially dependent” provision in section 1677–2 as requiring that more than half of the prior stage product be processed into the relevant finished good. Accordingly, Commerce determined that the demand for olive varietals suitable for processing into table olives was substantially dependent on the demand for table olives, and that a countervailing duty on table olives from Spain was warranted to offset the subsidies provided to Spanish olive growers. This time, the Trade Court sustained Commerce’s analysis.Asemesa now appeals the Trade Court’s determination. Asemesa argues that Commerce’s interpretation of the statute was contrary to law, and that Commerce’s factual analysis was not supported by substantial evidence. Although the court's interpretation of section 1677–2 and its analysis of the factual record in this case differ from the Trade Court’s, the court agrees with that court’s ultimate conclusion on both issues. The court affirms the Trade Court's decision. View "ASOCIACION DE EXPORTADORES E INDUSTRIALES v. US " on Justia Law

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The case involves a Ukrainian couple, Yasamin Karimi and Roman Tereshchenko, who divorced and disputed custody of their two children. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Tereshchenko agreed to Karimi removing the children from Ukraine for safety reasons, but requested that she bring them to him in Dubai. Instead, Karimi took the children to undisclosed locations, including the United States. Tereshchenko filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for the return of the children. The District Court granted Tereshchenko’s petition and ordered the children returned to him in France, where he was currently residing.Karimi appealed the decision, challenging the District Court's jurisdiction and arguing that Tereshchenko had consented to the children's removal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's jurisdiction and rejected Karimi's argument that Tereshchenko had consented to the children's removal. The Court of Appeals also found that the District Court had erred in determining that the children would not be exposed to a grave risk of harm if they were returned to western Ukraine. However, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court was permitted to order the return of the children to Tereshchenko in a third country, France, as a temporary measure due to the grave risk of harm in Ukraine. The case was remanded to the District Court to modify the order to maintain the Ukrainian courts’ authority over an ultimate custody determination. View "Tereshchenko v. Karimi" on Justia Law

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The case involves an appeal by Wheatland Tube Company against a decision by the U.S. Court of International Trade, which affirmed the U.S. Department of Commerce’s remand determination concerning the scope of an antidumping duty order on certain steel pipes imported from Thailand. The dispute centers on whether certain imports of steel pipes, specifically those that are "dual-stenciled" as both standard pipes and line pipes, fall within the scope of the existing antidumping duty order.The U.S. Court of International Trade initially found that the Department of Commerce unlawfully expanded the scope of the antidumping duty order by determining that it covered dual-stenciled pipes. On remand, the Department of Commerce, under protest, concluded that the antidumping duty order did not cover dual-stenciled pipes. The U.S. Court of International Trade sustained this determination.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of International Trade. The Court of Appeals held that the Department of Commerce’s initial determination that dual-stenciled pipes fall within the scope of the antidumping duty order was reasonable and supported by substantial evidence. The Court of Appeals found that the lower court's interpretation lacked support in the record and failed to give sufficient deference to the Department of Commerce under the substantial evidence standard of review. View "SAHA THAI STEEL PIPE PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED v. US " on Justia Law

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The case involves the Government of Romania's appeal against three judgments that confirmed an international arbitral award. The dispute originated from Romania's adoption of tax incentives to encourage investment in certain economically "disfavored" regions of the country. The Micula brothers and associated entities built food production facilities in Romania relying on these incentives. However, Romania repealed most of the tax incentives in 2005 in preparation to join the EU, leading the Miculas to file for arbitration in 2005.The district court confirmed the award in 2019 and entered judgment for $356,439,727, net of payments made and with interest. Romania challenged the subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the arbitration clause in the Sweden-Romania BIT was void as of Romania’s 2007 accession because EU law prohibits intra-EU agreements to arbitrate EU law disputes between a member state and the citizens of another member state. The district court ruled EU law was inapplicable because the parties’ dispute predated Romania’s EU membership and the award did not “relate to the interpretation or application of EU law.”In 2022, Romania sought relief from the 2019 Confirmation, and ensuing sanctions, arguing that two decisions of the EU’s highest court in 2022 held that “the agreement to arbitrate in the [Sweden-Romania] BIT was void the moment that Romania entered the EU.” The district court denied the motion, concluding that the CJEU Decisions did not hold Romania’s accession retroactively voided its pre-EU consent to arbitrate.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Romania's Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment. The court held that the district court's jurisdictional analysis was not premised on the "interpretation and application of EU law." Rather, the district court independently found the requisite "jurisdictional fact" under the arbitration exception of an agreement to arbitrate with the Miculas. The court also found that the 2022 CJEU decisions did not support the interpretation that Romania’s 2007 accession to the EU retroactively rendered the preexisting agreement to arbitrate with Swedish investors “void ab initio.” View "Micula v. Government of Romania" on Justia Law

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In 2020, Zircon Corp. filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission alleging that Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. and Black & Decker (U.S.), Inc. violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing and selling electronic stud finders that infringed on Zircon's patents. The Commission instituted an investigation based on Zircon's complaint. A Commission Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found no violation of section 337. On review, the Commission affirmed the ALJ's finding of no violation.The Commission's decision was based on two independent reasons. First, it affirmed the ALJ's determination that Zircon had not satisfied the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement. Zircon had argued that it met this requirement based on its investment in plant and equipment, its employment of labor and capital, and its investment in the exploitation of the asserted patents. However, the Commission found that Zircon had not provided an adequate basis to evaluate the investments and the significance of those investments with respect to each asserted patent.Second, the Commission found each of the claims of the patents that were before the Commission were either invalid or not infringed. The Commission found that all the asserted claims of one patent would have been obvious in view of four prior art references; that several claims of two other patents were invalid as anticipated by or obvious in light of Zircon’s original stud finder; and that several of the claims of these two patents were not infringed.Zircon appealed the Commission's decision, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission's decision. The court agreed with the Commission's interpretation of section 337 and found that substantial evidence supported the Commission's finding that Zircon failed to meet its burden to prove the existence of a domestic industry relating to articles protected by each of its patents. View "ZIRCON CORP. v. ITC " on Justia Law