Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

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This case arose from a foreign judgment in a Moroccan court levying over $100 million against plaintiff and his business partner. The Fifth Circuit held that an interim change in the Texas Recognition Act does not violate the state's constitutional ban on retroactive laws. Therefore, the retroactive law did not abrogate defendant's ability to seek recognition of the Moroccan judgment. Rather, it just gives a district court the ability to deny recognition if it finds the judgment was obtained in proceedings that were incompatible with the requirements of due process. The court also held that the district court properly followed this court's 2015 mandate and properly applied the new law. Therefore, the district court properly determined that plaintiff was denied due process in Morocco and thus had, and properly exercised, its discretion to deny recognition to the Moroccan judgment. View "DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum Exploration, SA" on Justia Law

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The University, an agent or instrumentality of the Swiss Confederation, having a place of business in Bern, Switzerland, granted an exclusive license of its 114 patent to the German company LABOKLIN, whose principal place of business is in Bad Kissingen, Germany. Under the License Agreement, LABOKLIN was required to commercialize the invention in North America. LABOKLIN entered into sublicenses in the U.S. PPG, a corporation headquartered in Washington State, offers laboratory services. After obtaining the University’s consent, LABOKLIN sent a cease-and-desist letter to PPG in Spokane, Washington. PPG sued LABOKLIN and the University, requesting a declaratory judgment that the Asserted Claims of the 114 patent are ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 for failing to claim patent-eligible subject matter. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the district court had jurisdiction over both LABOKLIN and the University. LABOKLIN had sufficient minimum contacts with the U.S. to comport with due process; the University, a foreign sovereign in the U.S., had engaged in “commercial activity” sufficient to trigger an exception to jurisdictional immunity under 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(2) by “obtain[ing] a patent and then threaten[ing] PPG by proxy with litigation.” PPG had stipulated to infringement of the Asserted Claims; the courts found those Claims patent-ineligible as directed to patent-ineligible subject matter, namely the discovery of the genetic mutation that is linked to HNPK. View "Genetic Veterinary Sciences, Inc. v. LABOKLIN GMBH & Co. KG" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that the district court violated the mandate the court issued in a previous decision instructing it not to send the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) claims to trial, and that the district court violated the law of the case by finding that 650 Fifth Avenue Company is a foreign state under the FSIA. Without reaching the merits of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) claims, the court held that the district court abused its discretion by precluding two of defendants’ witnesses from testifying at trial. Finally, the court held that TRIA section 201 litigants lack the right to a jury trial in actions against a state sponsor of terrorism, including its agencies or instrumentalities. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for a new trial on section 201 claims. View "Havlish v. 650 Fifth Avenue Co." on Justia Law

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At issue in this civil forfeiture appeal was whether the district court erred by exercising subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign state's property or abused its discretion by rejecting defendants' statute‐of‐limitations defense sua sponte. The Second Circuit held that the district court had jurisdiction because the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not foreclose in rem civil‐forfeiture suits against a foreign state's property. In this case, however, the district court abused its discretion by sua sponte resolving the statute‐of‐limitations issue without providing defendants notice or an opportunity to defend themselves. Finally, an accompanying summary order considered and rejected defendants' additional challenges. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Assa Co. Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that Assa must turn over substantial real and financial property interests to hundreds of terrorism victims holding default judgments against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The court held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) because Assa is an alter ego of Iran. The court also held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) because Assa is both an alter ego and agency or instrumentality of Iran and its property constituted blocked assets. Therefore, the court held that the district court correctly held that Assa’s property is subject to attachment and execution under section 201 of the TRIA. View "Kirschenbaum v. Assa Corp." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of paying and conspiring to pay bribes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371, 666, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and gratuities to United Nations officials and of related money laundering. Defendant's charges stemmed from his sustained effort to bribe two U.N. officials to designate one of his properties as the permanent site of an annual U.N. convention. The court held that the word "organization" as used in section 666, and defined by 1 U.S.C. 1 and 18 U.S.C. 18, applies to all non‐government legal persons, including public international organizations such as the U.N. The court also held that the "official act" quid pro quo for bribery as proscribed by 18 U.S.C. 201(b)(1), defined by id. section 201(a)(3), and explained in McDonnell v. United States, does not delimit bribery as proscribed by section 666 and the FCPA. Thus, the district court did not err in failing to charge the McDonnell standard for the FCPA crimes of conviction. Insofar as the district court nevertheless charged an "official act" quid pro quo for the section 666 crimes, that error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant, and the jury did not misconstrue the "corruptly" element of section 666 and the FCPA and the "obtaining or retaining business" element of the FCPA. View "United States v. Ng Lap Seng" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of claims brought in 2010 against the Republic of Turkey and two Turkish national banks, seeking compensation for property taken from plaintiffs' ancestors during the Armenian Genocide. The panel affirmed the judgment of the district court, because plaintiffs' claims, filed almost a century after the Armenian Genocide, were time-barred. California previously adopted a statute in 2006 to provide that any limitations period for suits arising out of the Armenian Genocide would not expire until December 31, 2016. Under this statute, plaintiffs' claims were timely filed. However, the panel subsequently held that the California law was unconstitutional. Therefore, plaintiffs' claims were facially time-barred in the absence of the statute. View "Bakalian v. Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, victims or representatives of victims in terrorist attacks in Amman, Jordan, filed suit alleging that defendants aided and abetted the attackers, in violation of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act by providing banking services to Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabiaʹs largest commercial bank, which was thought by some to have ties to al‐Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist organization responsible for the November 9 attacks. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The court held that plaintiffs' civil aiding and abetting claim failed because plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that HSBC was generally aware of its role as part of an overall illegal or tortious activity at the time that it provided the assistance, and that HSBC knowingly and substantially assisted the principal violation. View "Siegel v. HSBC North America Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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The United States government thought that three banks, headquartered in China, held records that might clarify how North Korea finances its nuclear weapons program. After the government subpoenaed those records, the Banks resisted and claimed that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction, that the Patriot Act subpoena exceeded the government's statutory authority, and that compelling production would run afoul of comity principles. The district court overruled the Banks' objections and subsequently held the Banks in civil contempt for failing to produce the requested records. The DC Circuit affirmed the contempt orders, holding that the Banks' jurisdictional challenges were meritless where Banks One and Two consented to jurisdiction when they opened branches in the United States and, although Bank Three has no U.S. branch and executed no such agreement, its choice to maintain correspondent accounts in the United States established an adequate connection to the forum and the enforcement action to sustain jurisdiction. The court also held that records "related to" a U.S. correspondent account, under 31 U.SC. 5318(k)(3)(A)(i), include records of transactions that do not themselves pass through a correspondent account when those transactions are in service of an enterprise entirely dedicated to obtaining access to U.S. currency and markets using a U.S. correspondent account. In this case, Bank Three's subpoena under the Patriot Act did not exceed the Attorney General's statutory authority, because all records pertaining to the Company's Bank Three account and its correspondent banking transactions, no matter where they occurred, are "related to" the Bank's U.S. correspondent accounts. In regard to the Banks' comity concerns, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by enforcing the subpoenas despite the fact that the United States chose not to pursue the process designated in the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAA) between the United States and China. Finally, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by issuing the civil contempt orders in light of the circumstances. View "In re: Sealed Case" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit held that the parents of a U.S. citizen killed during a military operation conducted by a foreign nation abroad may not sue the foreign official responsible for the operation in federal court on different theories of wrongful death claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action and held that defendant was entitled to foreign official immunity where his acts were performed in his official capacity, where the sovereign government has ratified his conduct, and where the U.S. Department of State has asked the judiciary to grant him foreign official immunity. The panel need not decide the level of deference owed to the State Department's suggestion of immunity in this case, because even if the suggestion of immunity is afforded "substantial weight" rather than "absolute deference," defendant would still be entitled to immunity. The panel explained that exercising jurisdiction over defendant would be to enforce a rule of law against the sovereign state of Israel, and that defendant would therefore be entitled to common-law foreign sovereign immunity. Even if defendant was entitled to common law immunity, the panel held that Congress has abrogated common law foreign official immunity via the TVPA. View "Dogan v. Barak" on Justia Law