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Petitioners sought compensation under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, 28 U.S.C. 1350, based on terrorist acts committed abroad. They alleged that those acts were in part facilitated by Arab Bank, a Jordanian institution with a New York branch. They claimed that the bank used that branch to clear dollar-denominated transactions that benefited terrorists through the Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS) and to launder money for a Texas-based charity allegedly affiliated with Hamas. The Second Circuit and Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the case. Foreign corporations may not be defendants in suits brought under the ATS, which is "strictly jurisdictional” and does not provide or define a cause of action for international law violations. The Court noted that after the Second Circuit permitted plaintiffs to bring ATS actions based on human-rights laws, Congress enacted the 1991 Torture Victim Protection Act, creating an express cause of action for victims of torture and extrajudicial killing. ATS suits then became more frequent but “the presumption against extraterritoriality applies to [ATS] claims.” Separation-of-powers concerns that counsel against courts creating private rights of action apply with particular force to the ATS, which implicates foreign-policy concerns. Courts must exercise “great caution” before recognizing new forms of liability under the ATS. In this case. the only alleged connections to the United States, the CHIPS transaction and a brief allegation about a Texas charity, are “relatively minor” and the litigation has caused diplomatic tensions with Jordan, a critical ally. View "Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2339A, and conspiring and attempting to destroy an aircraft of the United States Armed Forces, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 32. Defendant was convicted for acts associated with an attack on an Afghan Border Police post at Camp Leyza. As a preliminary matter, the court held that it had jurisdiction to determine whether defendant qualified as a POW and was entitled to combatant immunity under the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, irrespective of Army Regulation 190-8. On the merits, the court held that defendant was not entitled to combatant immunity under the Convention where the conflict in Afghanistan was not an international armed conflict. Consequently, because defendant did not qualify for combatant immunity pursuant to the Third Geneva Convention, he did not qualify for the common law defense of public authority. The court also held that section 32 clearly applied to otherwise lawful military actions committed during armed conflicts. In this case, defendant was convicted of attempting to fire anti-aircraft weapons at U.S. military helicopters, an attack that fell under the plain language of section 32. View "United States v. Hamidullin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Singaporean shipping company, entered into shipping contracts with an Indian mining company. The Indian company breached those contracts. Plaintiff believes that American businesses that were the largest stockholders in the Indian company engaged in racketeering activity to divest the Indian company of assets to thwart its attempts to recover damages for the breach. Plaintiff filed suit under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c). While the case was pending, the Supreme Court decided RJR Nabisco v. European Community, holding that “[a] private RICO plaintiff … must allege and prove a domestic injury to its business or property.” The district court granted the American defendants judgment on the RICO claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff’s claimed injury—harm to its ability to collect on its judgment and other claims—was economic; economic injuries are felt at a corporation’s principal place of business, and Plaintiff’s principal place of business is in Singapore. The court noted that the district court allowed a maritime fraudulent transfer claim to go forward. View "Armada (Singapore) PTE Ltd. v. Amcol International Corp." on Justia Law

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Following remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit held that this case was not a garden variety excessive force case against a federal law enforcement officer. Plaintiffs alleged that a law enforcement agent used deadly force without justification against a fifteen year old boy, violating the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, when they fatally shot him across the United States-Mexico border. At issue was whether federal courts have the authority to craft an implied damages action for alleged constitutional violations in this case under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999 (1971). The court noted that no federal statute authorizes a damages action by a foreign citizen injured on foreign soil by a federal law enforcement officer under these circumstances. The court held that the transnational aspect of the facts presented a "new context" under Bivens, and numerous "special factors" counseled against federal courts' interference with the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the case. View "Hernandez v. Mesa, Jr." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff AO Alpha Bank (Alpha Bank) initiated this lawsuit pursuant to the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Act (Recognition Act; Code Civ. Proc., sections 1713–1725)1 to recognize a Russian judgment against defendant Oleg Yakovlev. Yakovlev moved for summary judgment, arguing the judgment could not be recognized because: (1) the Russian court lacked personal jurisdiction; (2) he did not receive notice of the Russian proceeding in sufficient time to enable a defense; and (3) the Russian court proceeding was incompatible with due process. His central premise was that service of process in the Russian proceedings was ineffective. The trial court agreed and denied recognition of the Russian judgment on personal jurisdiction grounds. It granted Yakovlev's motion for summary judgment and denied Alpha Bank's cross-motion for summary judgment. After review, the California Court of Appeal reversed, finding due process did not require actual notice; it required only a method of service "reasonably calculated" to impart actual notice under the circumstances of the case. The Court found service by registered mail to the address Yakovlev designated in the surety agreement met that standard. Yakovlev did not meet his burden to establish a basis for nonrecognition on grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction, lack of notice, or incompatibility with due process. Accordingly, the presumption in favor of recognition applied, and the Russian judgment was entitled to recognition. View "AO Alpha-Bank v. Yakovlev" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff AO Alpha Bank (Alpha Bank) initiated this lawsuit pursuant to the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Act (Recognition Act; Code Civ. Proc., sections 1713–1725)1 to recognize a Russian judgment against defendant Oleg Yakovlev. Yakovlev moved for summary judgment, arguing the judgment could not be recognized because: (1) the Russian court lacked personal jurisdiction; (2) he did not receive notice of the Russian proceeding in sufficient time to enable a defense; and (3) the Russian court proceeding was incompatible with due process. His central premise was that service of process in the Russian proceedings was ineffective. The trial court agreed and denied recognition of the Russian judgment on personal jurisdiction grounds. It granted Yakovlev's motion for summary judgment and denied Alpha Bank's cross-motion for summary judgment. After review, the California Court of Appeal reversed, finding due process did not require actual notice; it required only a method of service "reasonably calculated" to impart actual notice under the circumstances of the case. The Court found service by registered mail to the address Yakovlev designated in the surety agreement met that standard. Yakovlev did not meet his burden to establish a basis for nonrecognition on grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction, lack of notice, or incompatibility with due process. Accordingly, the presumption in favor of recognition applied, and the Russian judgment was entitled to recognition. View "AO Alpha-Bank v. Yakovlev" on Justia Law

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The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act grants foreign states and their agencies and instrumentalities immunity from suit in the U.S. and grants their property immunity from attachment and execution in satisfaction of judgments against them, 28 U.S.C. 1609, with some exceptions. Petitioners obtained a judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran under section 1605A, an exception that applies to foreign states designated as state sponsors of terrorism with respect to claims arising out of acts of terrorism. Petitioners sought to attach and execute against Iranian assets—a collection of ancient clay tablets and fragments housed at University of Chicago. The Seventh Circuit and Supreme Court affirmed a holding in favor of Iran. Section 1610(g), which provides that certain property is “subject to attachment in aid of execution, and execution, upon [a 1605A] judgment as provided in this section” does not provide a freestanding basis for parties holding a 1605A judgment to attach and execute against the property of a foreign state. For section 1610(g) to apply, the immunity of the property at issue must be rescinded under a separate section 1610 provision. The section 1610 provisions that unambiguously revoke the immunity of a foreign state’s property employ textual markers that are absent from 1610(g). There is support for petitioners’ position that section 1610(g) was intended to divest all property of a foreign state or its agencies or instrumentalities of immunity. View "Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

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In 1985, EgyptAir Flight 648 was hijacked by terrorists, who killed passengers and destroyed the aircraft. The U.S. State Department determined that the terrorists received support from the Libyan government. In 1988, a Libyan Intelligence Service agent detonated explosives on Pan Am Flight 103, killing 270 people and destroying the aircraft. Insurers paid $97 million in claims. Libya was shielded by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1604, before enactment of the 1996 State Sponsors of Terrorism Exception to FSIA, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(7). The insurers sued, asserting their insurance subrogation rights. While those claims were pending, President Bush negotiated a settlement with Libya, The U.S. agreed to terminate pending lawsuits; Libya paid the government $1.5 billion, which funded the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. The Libyan Claims Resolution Act, 122 Stat. 2999, provides that Libya shall not be subject to the FSIA exceptions. The insurers’ suit was dismissed. Some of the insurers submitted claims with the Commission, which were denied because of a rule requiring that claimants be U.S. nationals from the date of injury to the date of the espousal of their claims by the U.S. They then sued, alleging that the government took their property without just compensation. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. The insurers “cannot claim an investment-backed expectation free of government involvement nor can they characterize the Government’s action as novel or unexpected.” View "Aviation & General Isurance Co., Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Vexol, a Mexican company that provides plastic and shrink wrap to end users in Mexico, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana against Berry Plastics, a Delaware corporation that allegedly does business in Mexico through its subsidiary, Pliant, Vexol alleged that Pliant sold shrink wrap to Vexol and that Vexol’s customers complained about the quality and returned their purchases to Vexol. Vexol sought to return the unsatisfactory product to Pliant, which would not issue a refund, but claimed that Vexol owed it money pursuant to a fabricated “pagare,” the Mexican equivalent of a promissory note. Pliant allegedly caused another Mexican entity, Aspen, to enforce the pagare in the Mexican Mercantile Court. Vexol alleged that Pliant also filed a criminal complaint against Vexol for fraud. Vexol claimed violation of Indiana tort law and Mexico’s Federal Civil Code. Citing choice‐of‐law principles, the district court dismissed with prejudice the Indiana law claims and dismissed without prejudice the Mexican law claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The complaint "plainly" does not describe anything that Berry did in Mexico. Plaintiffs alleging fraud must state particularly “the who, what, when, where, and how” of the circumstances. Vexol’s complaint satisfied none of those requirements. View "Vexol S.A. de C.V. v. Berry Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment entered in the stipulated total amount of $100,000,000 following a jury verdict holding that the bank was liable under the Antiterrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. 2333, for injuries sustained by plaintiffs or their relatives during terrorist attacks in Israel conducted by Hamas. The court held that the jury was not properly instructed on the "international terrorism" element of the ATA. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. The court noted that its determination makes it unnecessary for it to decide whether any of the bank's other challenges warrant such relief because the parties have entered into a settlement agreement that forgoes retrial on vacatur and remand in lieu of a specified total money payment to the bellwether plaintiffs. View "Linde v. Arab Bank, PLC" on Justia Law