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Purchasers of vitamin C filed suit, alleging that Chinese exporters had agreed to fix the price and quantity of vitamin C exported to the U.S., in violation of the Sherman Act. The exporters unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the complaint and later sought summary judgment, arguing that Chinese law required them to fix the price and quantity of exports, shielding them from liability under U.S. antitrust law. China’s Ministry of Commerce, the authority authorized to regulate foreign trade, asserted that the alleged conspiracy was actually a pricing regime mandated by the Chinese Government. The purchasers countered that the Ministry had identified no law or regulation requiring the agreement; highlighted a publication announcing that the sellers had agreed to control the quantity and rate of exports without government intervention; and noted China’s statement to the World Trade Organization that it ended its export administration of vitamin C in 2002. The Second Circuit reversed a verdict for the purchasers, stating that federal courts are “bound to defer” to the foreign government’s construction of its own law, whenever that construction is “reasonable.” The Supreme Court vacated. A federal court determining foreign law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 should accord respectful consideration to a foreign government’s submission, but is not bound to accord conclusive effect to such statements. Relevant considerations include the clarity, thoroughness, and support of the foreign government's statement; its context and purpose; the transparency of the foreign legal system; the role and authority of the entity or official offering the statement; and the statement’s consistency with the foreign government’s past positions. Determination of foreign law must be treated as a question of law; courts are not limited to materials submitted by the parties, but “may consider any relevant material or source.” View "Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co." on Justia Law

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In 2010, Hungarian survivors of the Holocaust filed a purported class action in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that in 1944 the Hungarian national railway transported Fischer and up to 500,000 other Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the plaintiffs had neither exhausted remedies that may be available in Hungary nor established that the national railway is engaged in commercial activity in the U.S., as necessary to support the exercise of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) expropriation exception. In 2016, Kellner, a member of the putative class, filed her own complaint against the Hungarian national railway in Budapest’s Capital Regional Court, which dismissed the case. In 2017, the district court received a “Motion to Reinstate” based on “class member” Kellner’s efforts to exhaust remedies in Hungary. The district court rejected the motion: [A]lthough there was a proposed class in this case and Kellner may have been a putative class member, … No class was certified …. Kellner ... is not a named party … and lacks any standing.” The Seventh Circuit held that it lacked authority to consider an appeal from a party not subject to the order sought to be challenged. View "Fischer v. Magyar Allamvasutak Zrt." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the República Bolivariana de Venezuela and Petroquimica de Venezuela, S.A., alleging unlawful expropriation of their property in violation of international law. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and denied their motion for leave nunc pro tunc to file an amended complaint. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court issued Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, et al. v. Helmerich & Payne Int'l Drilling Co., 137 S. Ct. 1312 (2017), which detailed the showing that plaintiffs such as the ones in this case must make in order to have jurisdiction over a foreign state in United States courts under the expropriation (i.e., takings) exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3). The court remanded for the district court to permit plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and, after defendants have responded, to address whether the domestic takings rule applied and whether jurisdiction existed under the FSIA's expropriation exception. View "Comparelli v. Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela" on Justia Law

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After sixteen-year-old Yaakov Naftali Fraenkel and two of his classmates were taken hostage and killed by members of Hamas, his family filed suit in district court against Iran and Syria under the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1605A. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants provided material support to Hamas. The district court eventually entered a default judgment for plaintiffs and plaintiffs challenged the amount of damages awarded to them. The DC Circuit rejected plaintiffs' claim that the district court erred in failing to determine the solatium damages awards in conformity with the remedial scheme established in Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 466 F. Supp. 2d 229 (D.D.C. 2006). The court held that Heiser was a useful reference point, but not binding precedent. The court further held that the district court abused its discretion in awarding solatium damages because its judgment was based on impermissible considerations and clearly erroneous findings of fact. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded. The court affirmed the punitive damages and pain-and-suffering awards because the judgments with respect to those awards were consistent with the applicable law, adequately reasoned, and supported by the evidence. View "Fraenkel v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

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The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters does not permit Chinese citizens to be served by mail, nor does it allow parties to set their own terms of service by contract. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's denial of a motion to set aside a default judgment against SinoType, a Chinese company. In this case, the trial court acknowledged that the service of the summons and petition had not complied with the Hague Service Convention, but concluded that the parties had privately agreed to accept service by mail. The court held, however, that SinoType was never validly served with process, and thus no personal jurisdiction by the court was obtained and the resulting judgment was void as violating fundamental due process. View "Rockefeller Technology Investments (Asia) III v. Changzhou Sinotype Technology Co." on Justia Law

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A flag painted on the side of a vessel is not "flying" for the purpose of making a "claim of nationality or registry" under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, 46 U.S.C. 70502(e). In this case, the United States Coast Guard stopped a vessel in international waters and arrested the crew members aboard the vessel. The crew members argued that the United States lacked jurisdiction because the painted Colombian flag constituted a claim of nationality under section 70502(e)(2) that obliged the Coast Guard to ask Colombian officials about the vessel. The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for drug offenses, holding that the United States had jurisdiction over the vessel and its crew because the painted Colombian flag on its hull was not flying for the purpose of making a claim of nationality or registry. Finally, the court rejected alternative arguments. View "United States v. Obando" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the denial of full compensation for the land allegedly seized from her family during the Cold War (the Estate) violated the bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany (FCN Treaty). The DC Circuit held, in light of de Csepel v. Republic of Hungary, that a foreign state was immune to claims for the expropriation of property not present in the United States. In this case, plaintiff did not dispute that the Estate was located abroad or that Germany was the foreign state itself. Therefore, the court held that the district court properly concluded that U.S. courts could not exercise subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's claims against Germany under the expropriation exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). However, the court left for the district court to consider in the first instance whether BVVG was properly considered an "agency or instrumentality" of Germany rather than the state itself. View "Schubarth v. Federal Republic of Germany" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to Jay-Z and other defendants in an action brought by the heir to the Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdy, alleging copyright infringement in the song Khosara. Jay-Z used a sample from the arrangement in the background music to his single Big Pimpin'. The panel held that the heir to Hamdy's copyright may not sue Jay-Z for infringement based solely on the fact that Egyptian law recognizes an inalienable "moral right" of the author to object to offensive uses of a copyrighted work. The panel held: (1) that Egyptian law recognizes a transferable economic right to prepare derivative works; (2) that the moral rights the heir retained by operation of Egyptian law were not enforceable in U.S. federal court; and (3) that, even if they were, the heir has not complied with the compensation requirement of Egyptian law, which did not provide for his requested money damages, and which provided for only injunctive relief from an Egyptian court. View "Fahmy v. Jay-Z" on Justia Law

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Liquidators petitioned for writ of mandamus to compel the DC district court's compliance with a Second Circuit mandate in an action involving claims to $6.8 million of alleged illegal proceeds from a New York bank account in the name of Kesten Development Corporation. The Second Circuit held that enforcement of Brazil's criminal forfeiture order violated the penal law rule barring United States courts from enforcing the penal laws of foreign countries. The court held that the proper standard of review in this case was the same as all mandamus cases and applied the Cheney factors. Applying the first Cheney factor, the court held that Liquidators have no right to relief and thus failed to satisfy the legal standard for obtaining mandamus. View "In Re: Trade and Commerce Bank" on Justia Law

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Liquidators petitioned for writ of mandamus to compel the DC district court's compliance with a Second Circuit mandate in an action involving claims to $6.8 million of alleged illegal proceeds from a New York bank account in the name of Kesten Development Corporation. The Second Circuit held that enforcement of Brazil's criminal forfeiture order violated the penal law rule barring United States courts from enforcing the penal laws of foreign countries. The court held that the proper standard of review in this case was the same as all mandamus cases and applied the Cheney factors. Applying the first Cheney factor, the court held that Liquidators have no right to relief and thus failed to satisfy the legal standard for obtaining mandamus. View "In Re: Trade and Commerce Bank" on Justia Law