Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

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Prevent, a group of European companies that specializes in turning around distressed automotive parts suppliers, organized an effort to halt supplies of their parts to obtain better terms from Volkswagen, based in Germany. Volkswagen responded by not doing business with the affiliated companies. Begun in 2016, this litigation initially involved claims of unfair business practices and anticompetitive behavior under German and European law and was handled by German courts. Volkswagen prevailed in most of the suits.In 2019 two members of Prevent, Eastern, based in the Netherlands, and Prevent's American subsidiary sued Volkswagen and its American subsidiary in Michigan, alleging that the carmaker unfairly prevented them from acquiring distressed automotive-parts manufacturers. The district court dismissed the complaint, citing forum non conveniens. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Germany is an adequate forum to hear this case. It appears that a Germany-based antitrust lawsuit would reach more conduct and more injuries than an American suit. German and Portuguese are the languages of the relevant documents. Local interest in the dispute, the location of the injury, the fullness of the court’s docket, preference for trying cases in the place of the governing law, hesitance to apply foreign law, and desire to avoid conflict-of-law problems, predict an American court’s potential “administrative and legal problems” with trying the case. View "Prevent USA Corp. v. Volkswagen AG" on Justia Law

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WhatsApp sued under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and California state law, alleging that NSO, a privately owned and operated Israeli corporation, sent malware through WhatsApp’s server system to approximately 1,400 mobile devices. NSO argued that foreign sovereign immunity protected it from suit and, therefore, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because NSO was acting as an agent of a foreign state, entitling it to “conduct-based immunity”—a common-law doctrine that protects foreign officials acting in their official capacity.The district court and Ninth Circuit rejected that argument. The Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, 28 U.S.C. 1602, occupies the field of foreign sovereign immunity and categorically forecloses extending immunity to any entity that falls outside the Act’s broad definition of “foreign state.” There has been no indication that the Supreme Court intended to extend foreign official immunity to entities. Moreover, the FSIA’s text, purpose, and history demonstrate that Congress displaced common-law sovereign immunity as it relates to entities. View "WhatsApp Inc.v. NSO Group Technologies Ltd." on Justia Law

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S.L.C. is the now-six-year-old, U.S.-citizen daughter of Lazaro, who resides near Seattle, and Colchester, who resides in Spain. Colchester was given sole custody of S.L.C. by a Spanish court. Lazaro was visiting Colchester and S.L.C. when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. According to Lazaro, during that visit, Colchester often “screamed at and acted aggressively.” Lazaro testified about several specific instances of abuse. Lazaro absconded with S.L.C.and, unable to stay in Spain because of the lockdown, fled to Seattle with S.L.C.Colchester filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Spanish court issued a warrant, with an order declaring that Spain was S.L.C.’s habitual residence. In Washington state, Lazaro filed petitions for domestic violence orders of protection. Colchester filed a Hague Convention petition in Washington. After dismissing Lazaro’s petitions, the state court issued a warrant, authorizing law enforcement to seize S.L.C. Lazaro responded by temporarily hiding with S.L.C.The district court granted the Hague Convention petition. The Ninth Circuit vacated. Neither the Hague Convention nor its implementing legislation, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, provides for the appointment of a psychologist as of right but the district court erred in refusing the mother’s request for such an appointment to provide an expert opinion regarding her allegations of abuse and psychological harm to the child. The district court also erred by failing to make findings of fact adequate to support its order. View "Colchester v. Lazaro" on Justia Law

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Halkbank, a commercial bank that is majority-owned by the Government of Turkey, was charged with crimes related to its participation in a multi-year scheme to launder billions of dollars' worth of Iranian oil and natural gas proceeds in violation of U.S. sanctions against the Government of Iran and Iranian entities and persons. Halkbank moved to dismiss the indictment but the district court denied the motionThe Second Circuit held that it has jurisdiction over the instant appeal under the collateral order doctrine. The court also held that, even assuming the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) applies in criminal cases—an issue that the court need not, and did not, decide today—the commercial activity exception to FSIA would nevertheless apply to Halkbank's charged offense conduct. Therefore, the district court did not err in denying Halkbank’s motion to dismiss the Indictment. The court further concluded that Halkbank, an instrumentality of a foreign sovereign, is not entitled to immunity from criminal prosecution at common law. View "United States v. Bankasi" on Justia Law

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Harm is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, currently residing in Ireland. Lake-Harm is a U.S. citizen, currently living in New Orleans. The couple was married in the U.S.; their daughter, SLH, was born in the U.S. in 2017. Lake-Harm was a musician and traveled extensively. Harm alleged that SLH was abducted by Lake-Harm from Ireland in 2019. The three had been living in Ireland to obtain European Union residency for Lake-Harm and SLH. Harm initiated a custody suit in the U.S.Under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the country in which a child maintains her “habitual residence” almost always has jurisdiction to decide a custody dispute between the parents. If a child moves to a new country but her presence there is deemed “transitory,” the country in which the child habitually resided before the move remains the child’s habitual residence. The district court applied the “totality-of-the-circumstances” analysis in determining that SLH’s habitual residence was in the U.S. and that her residence in Ireland was transitory. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. Despite “the increase of SLH’s parents’ center of gravity in Ireland,” the district court followed the Supreme Court’s precedent in Hague Convention cases and did not commit clear error in determining and weighing the operative facts. View "Harm v. Lake-Harm" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of a petition for return of petitioner's child to France under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The panel concluded that the district court made three legal errors: 1) assuming petitioner cut off financial support for the child, the district court erred as a matter of law in determining that was sufficient to establish that he clearly and unequivocally abandoned the child, the showing required for deeming a parent not to be exercising custody rights; 2) the district court further erred in declining to return the child to France based on a "grave risk" defense, without first considering whether there are alternative remedies available to protect the child and permit her return to France for the period of time necessary for French courts to make the custody determination; and 3) the district court also erred in relying in part on the pandemic to deny the petition because the record did not include any evidence addressing what specific pandemic related risk returning the child to France would present. View "Jones v. Fairfield" on Justia Law

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This case arose from an alleged international conspiracy to secure lucrative oil and gas contracts in Nigeria in exchange for bribes involving real estate, furniture, artwork, and other gifts. LightRay, the sole shareholder of the corporate owner of the yacht, M/Y Galactica Star, appeals the district court's 2018 order striking its claims and dismissing it for lack of standing. Enron Nigeria, a judgment creditor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, appeals the district court's 2020 order granting a consent motion that resulted in the forfeiture of the yacht.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling with respect to LightRay's appeal and dismissed Enron Nigeria's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that LightRay deliberately withdrew its claim against the yacht and waived its argument that it did so under duress. Furthermore, the district court did not err in dismissing LightRay from the proceedings for lack of standing with respect to the Remaining Assets. The court also concluded that Nigeria's Verified Claim was at all times immune from attachment and execution under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. In this case, Nigeria did not waive its sovereign immunity by encouraging the United States Government to sell the Galactica Star. View "United States v. LightRay Capital, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims as time-barred under the two year statute of limitations set forth in the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (Montreal Convention), and denial of plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint. Plaintiff filed suit against American and others, alleging that, while boarding a flight from Paris, France, to Dallas, Texas, on December 28, 2015, a flight attendant struck him, causing injury.The court concluded that, because plaintiff alleged that he was injured while boarding an international flight, his claims fall under the Montreal Convention, a multilateral treaty that "applies to all international carriage of persons, baggage or cargo performed by aircraft." Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend. The court considered plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Cohen v. American Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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Broidy, an activist businessman, urged the government to oppose Qatar’s alleged funding and harboring of terrorists and to support the efforts of Qatar’s neighbors to isolate it economically. Broidy alleges that Qatar engaged in “a multi-million dollar dark money effort to recruit lobbyists and influencers to polish Qatar’s public image.” Qatar allegedly paid the defendants, U.S.-citizen public relations contractors, millions in hopes of rehabilitating its image with “the Republican, American Jewish community and other conservative supporters of Israel.” They allegedly retained a cybersecurity firm “to coordinate an offensive cyber and information operation against” Broidy and his company.Broidy sued, alleging violations of RICO, Stored Communications Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Defend Trade Secrets Act, and California law. Without acknowledging involvement in the alleged scheme, the defendants claimed immunity based on Broidy’s allegations regarding their relationship to Qatar, a foreign sovereign. The court dismissed certain claims as legally inadequate and rejected the immunity defense.The D.C. Circuit affirmed. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by its terms does not apply. Qatar has not said that the challenged conduct was at its behest nor has it urged the United States to recognize the defendants’ immunity. The State Department has never suggested that the defendants are immune as agents of Qatar. Without any such acknowledgment or suggestion, a private party claiming foreign sovereign immunity bears a heavy burden. The defendants here are U.S. citizens sued in their private capacities by U.S. plaintiffs for violations of U.S. and California law within the U.S. View "Broidy Capital Management LLC v. Muzin" on Justia Law

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Father sought the return of his children under the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), which implements the Convention. The district court found the repatriation of the minor children to Germany posed a grave risk of psychological harm if in father's custody and therefore ordered that the children be transferred back to Germany in mother's custody until a German court made a custody determination.The Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded the district court's alternative remedy order for the district court to reasonably ensure compliance with its alternative remedy in Germany. The court explained that, because mother wrongfully removed the children, as she conceded, the district court in no way exceeded its authority to mandate the children's return to Germany accompanied by mother. However, in the context of an Article 13(b) finding, the district court needed a fuller record to have sufficient guarantees that the alternative remedy will be enforced in Germany. View "Radu v. Johnson Shon" on Justia Law