Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

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Sharifi alleges the U.S. Army took his land when it built Combat Outpost Millet in Afghanistan in 2010. The government asserted that Sharifi’s Fifth Amendment complaint was “vague and ambiguous” because it did not specifically identify the property interest that the government allegedly took, that Sharifi had not provided a legal description of the land, a deed, or other documents that would allow the government to identify the location. The Claims Court instructed Sharifi to file an amended complaint. Sharifi alleged that government records, verified by the District Governor of Arghandab, showed that his grandfather owned the land on which the Army built COP Millet: Ownership of the land passed to Sharifi and his siblings, who subdivided the land by a 2004 inheritance agreement. The government submitted six declarations, including several witness declarations and an expert declaration on Afghan law. The Claims Court dismissed Sharifi’s amended complaint for failure to show a cognizable property interest.The Federal Circuit affirmed. The government records attached to Sharifi’s amended complaint and the 2004 inheritance agreement do not constitute proof of land ownership under the laws of Afghanistan. Even accepting as true all factual allegations in Sharifi’s amended complaint, the amended complaint does not contain sufficient facts to state a plausible takings claim. View "Sharifi v. United States" on Justia Law

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German Jewish art dealers owned a collection of medieval relics. Their heirs allege that the Nazi government unlawfully coerced the consortium into selling the collection to Prussia for a third of its value. The relics are currently maintained by an instrumentality of the Federal Republic of Germany and displayed at a Berlin museum. After unsuccessfully seeking compensation in Germany, the heirs brought claims in the U.S. Germany argued that the claims did not fall under an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act for “property taken in violation of international law,” 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3) because a sovereign’s taking of its own nationals’ property is not unlawful under the international law of expropriation. The heirs countered that the purchase was an act of genocide, a violation of international human rights law. The D. C. Circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to dismiss.The Supreme Court vacated. Under the expropriation exception, a foreign sovereign’s taking of its own nationals’ property remains a domestic affair. Historically, a sovereign’s taking of a foreign national’s property implicated international law because it constituted an injury to the state of the alien’s nationality. A domestic taking did not interfere with relations among states. The FSIA’s expropriation exception emphasizes property and property-related rights, while human rights violations are not mentioned. Germany’s interpretation of the exception is more consistent with the FSIA’s goal of codifying the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity, under which immunity extends to a sovereign’s public, but not private, acts. Other FSIA exceptions confirm Germany’s position; those exceptions would be of little consequence if human rights abuses could be packaged as violations of property rights and brought within the expropriation exception. View "Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp" on Justia Law

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Baan Rao Thai Restaurant and plaintiffs seek review of a consular officer's decision to deny visas for plaintiffs, asserting their claims fall within one of the consular nonreviewability doctrine's narrow exceptions.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint on the merits, rejecting plaintiffs' contention that the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States and Thailand expressly provides that judicial review is available. The court concluded that access provisions were longstanding and well understood at the time the U.S.-Thailand Treaty was entered into—and that understanding was that the provisions relate to procedural rights. In this case, plaintiffs' argument seeks to fashion a longstanding, common and well understood treaty provision into something it is not. The court also explained, as recently clarified by the United States Supreme Court, that a dismissal pursuant to the consular nonreviewability doctrine is a dismissal on the merits. View "Baan Rao Thai Restaurant v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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Erwin-Simpson, a D.C. resident, alleges that she suffered injuries in 2016 on a flight from Malaysia to Cambodia with Malaysia-based AirAsia when a flight attendant spilled boiling water on her. She sued under the Montreal Convention, a treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory that provides for airline liability in the case of injuries that occur during flight. AirAsia is a low-cost airline that provides service across Asia; it does not operate any flights to or from the U.S.The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit for lack of jurisdiction. The injuries Erwin-Simpson alleged did not arise from any activity by AirAsia in the District of Columbia, and the only presence that the airline identifies here is its website. The website on its own is insufficient to render the corporation subject to suit in the District. View "Erwin-Simpson v. AirAsia Berhad" on Justia Law

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In this appeal arising from a long-running dispute between the Republic of Moldova and a Ukrainian energy provider called Energoalliance, a company called Stileks—which owns the right to Energoalliance's arbitration award—seeks to recover the arbitration award. Principally at issue is whether the district court correctly confirmed the arbitration award which, with interest, now exceeds $58 million.The DC Circuit upheld the confirmation of the award. The court rejected Moldova's claims that the district court lacked jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and that, even if the district court had jurisdiction, it was error to confirm the arbitral award during the pendency of certain foreign proceedings. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding prejudgment interest to appropriately compensate Stileks for the time value of money. However, the court remanded for the district court to consider whether Moldova had a settled expectation that an adverse judgment would be denominated in Moldovan lei rather than U.S. dollars. View "LLC SPC Stileks v. Republic of Moldova" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reaffirmed in this case that undocumented aliens who are injured while working for a Nevada employer may be eligible for monetary disability benefits, holding that these monetary benefits, paid by the insurer, do not conflict with federal law or undermine the Legislature's intent.Respondent, an undocumented Nevadan, was severely injured while working for High Point Construction and applied for permanent total disability (PTD) status. Associated Risk Management (ARM), High Point's insurance administrator, denied the request. An appeals officer reversed and granted Respondent PTD status pursuant to the "odd-lot doctrine." ARM petitioned for judicial review, arguing that the appeals officer committed legal error by granting PTD to an undocumented alien. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) undocumented aliens are not precluded from receiving disability benefits under Nevada's workers' compensation laws; (2) although federal law prohibits employers from knowingly employing an undocumented alien, it does not prohibit insurers from compensating undocumented aliens for injuries they sustain while working; and (3) the appeals officer's decision was based on substantial evidence. View "Associated Risk Management, Inc. v. Ibanez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Shahrokh Mireskandari alleged four causes of action against Joseph Scoma, M.D., based on the reports and opinions Scoma provided at the request of a disciplinary tribunal in London, England, as part of the tribunal’s formal proceedings involving Mireskandari, his legal practice, and his license to practice law in the United Kingdom. Mireskandari qualified as a solicitor in 2000, and by 2006 he was the managing partner of a London firm with mostly “black, minority, or ethnic origin” (BME) solicitors and staff. In 2007, Mireskandari publicly disclosed to a member of Parliament problems BME solicitors experienced “at the hands of the Legal Society of England and Wales (‘LSE’) and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (‘SRA’).” In retaliation, the LSE/SRA began a campaign to discredit Mireskandari: the LSE/SRA hired a Los Angeles law firm; a paralegal working for the firm obtained Mireskandari's education records; and within two weeks of being advised of those records, LSE/SRA launched an investigation into his “educational and work background.” More than two years later, in early April 2011, the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) “initiated the proceedings against [Mireskandari] regarding the intervention of [Mireskandari’s] legal practice and his license to practice law in the United Kingdom” (SDT proceedings). At that time, Mireskandari travelled to California. He became seriously ill and requested that the SDT proceedings be adjourned. In support of his request, Mireskandari submitted evidence from California physicians of his illness, his inability to travel to England, and his inability to participate in the SDT proceedings. In response, at the request of the LSE/SRA, the SDT appointed Scoma “as an independent expert (not the expert of the LSE/SRA),” who reported back to the LSE/SRA "I see no reason why he is unable to travel by plane from the USA to the UK.’ ” Based on the SDT proceedings, the SDT struck Mireskandari from the roll of solicitors, thereby preventing him from practicing law in the United Kingdom. This resulted in the permanent closing of the law firm of which he was a partner. Mireskandari suffered damages in excess of $500 million. The trial court sustained without leave to amend Scoma’s demurrer to the complaint and entered judgment in favor of Scoma and against Mireskandari. On the record presented by Mireskandari, the California Court of Appeal found California’s litigation privilege (codified at Civil Code section 47) barred each of Mireskandari’s causes of action. Thus, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Mireskandari v. Gallagher" on Justia Law

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The Okeres, U.S. citizens, are trying to get their eight-year-old son from Nigeria to the United States. They applied for a “certificate of identity,” which validates the identity of a person living abroad who purports to be a U.S. citizen but has not presented enough evidence of citizenship to obtain a passport, 8 U.S.C. 1503(b). They sued, asserting that, after their son finally received a travel document from the State Department, he has been prevented from boarding a flight to the U.S. because the Consulate General refused to verify the certificate’s authenticity with the airlines with which they had booked flights for their son.The district court dismissed the Okeres’ complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Okeres identified no legal authority compelling the Consulate General to verify the authenticity of the certificate to the airlines. None of the federal statutes the Okeres invoked confers jurisdiction. Nor do any of the provisions identified in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual create individual rights or impose enforceable duties on a Consulate General when issuing a certificate of identity. The court stated that its decision was “most unsatisfying, for it is impossible to read the parties’ briefs without concluding that something else is going on here.” View "Okere v. United States" on Justia Law

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After R&R filed suit seeking to redeem bonds issued by Banco do Brasil, the district court dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and decided, in the alternative, that the bonds were no longer redeemable under Brazilian law.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction under the commercial-activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), because the issuance of the colonization bonds was a commercial activity and the Bank's refusal to honor those bonds caused a direct effect in the United States. However, the court concluded that the complaint is barred by the statute of limitations under Brazilian law. In this case, the statute of limitations ran in 1997, 20 years after maturity, and thus when R&R tried to redeem the colonization bonds in 2018, they were no longer enforceable. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and affirmed in part. View "R&R International Consulting LLC v. Banco Do Brasil, S.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Elliot Broidy and his investment firm filed suit against the State of Qatar and various other defendants after Qatari agents allegedly hacked into plaintiffs' computer servers, stole their confidential information, and leaked it to the media in a retaliatory effort to embarrass plaintiff and thereby to neutralize his ability to continue to effectively criticize the Qatari regime and its alleged support of terrorism.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The panel concluded that neither the FSIA's exception to immunity for tortious activity nor its exception for commercial activity applied in this case and thus Qatar was immune from jurisdiction. The panel explained that all of plaintiffs' tort claims were barred under the discretionary function exclusion from the tortious activity exception because the challenged conduct was discretionary in nature or involved an element of judgment or choice, and the judgment was of the kind that the exception was designed to shield. Furthermore, plaintiffs' claims were based on the alleged surreptitious intrusion into their servers and email accounts in order to obtain information and the dissemination of such information to others, including persons in the media. The panel explained that such conduct did not qualify as commercial activity under the FSIA. View "Broidy Capital Management v. State of Qatar" on Justia Law