by
Jones, a Michigan citizen, began working in Equatorial Guinea around 2007. In 2011, he started IPX to provide telecommunication services in Equatorial Guinea. IPX is incorporated and has its principal place of business in Equatorial Guinea. Jones was a shareholder, director, and employee, working as a Director-General under a contract, signed annually in Equatorial Guinea. He lived and worked there during the contract’s term. IPX decided in 2015 to open a U.S. subsidiary and sent Jones to Michigan. His work there was supposed to take six months. Jones would then return to Equatorial Guinea. After Jones arrived in Michigan, IPX learned that he may have stolen money and neglected important business relationships and suspended Jones. Jones claims that the suspension was a pretext to divest him of his stock. He sued for breach of contract in the Eastern District of Michigan. The court dismissed the complaint under forum non conveniens. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Equatorial Guinea is an available and adequate forum; IXP is subject to process there. Most of the witnesses and key documents are in Equatorial Guinea; witnesses can be compelled to testify there. Equatorial Guinean law governs under the underlying employment contract’s choice-of-law provision. There is strong evidence that Jones is not at home in the United States, negating the assumption that a U.S. court is most convenient for him. View "Jones v. IPX International Equatorial Guinea S.A." on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' amended complaint in part for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and in part for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Plaintiffs' claims arose from their dissatisfaction with the outcome of divorce proceedings in Israel and subsequent efforts by their ex‐wives, with the assistance of the charitable organizations, to collect child support from them. The court held that the district court properly dismissed all claims against the Israeli Officials for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because, as foreign government officials acting in their official capacity, they were entitled to immunity. With respect to the remaining defendants, plaintiffs failed to satisfy the domestic injury requirement of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in barring Plaintiffs Eliahu and Weisskopf from filing future related actions against defendants without its permission. In this case, the court considered the anti-filing injunction factors such as Eliahu and Weisskopf's history of vexatious litigation, their improper motives for pursuing the litigation, and the expense to defendants and burden on the courts. Furthermore, the court saw no reason to grant Eliahu and Weisskopf the latitude usually granted to pro se litigants, and concluded that other sanctions against them would be inadequate. View "Eliahu v. Jewish Agency for Israel" on Justia Law

by
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act generally immunizes foreign states from suit in the United States unless an exception applies, 28 U.S.C. 1604. If an exception applies, the Act provides subject-matter jurisdiction in federal district court and personal jurisdiction “where service has been made under section 1608.” Section 1608(a) provides four methods of serving civil process, including service “by any form of mail requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched . . . to the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state.” Victims of the USS Cole bombing filed suit, alleging that Sudan provided material support to al Qaeda for the bombing. The court clerk addressed the service packet to Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Sudanese Embassy in the United States and later certified that a signed receipt had been returned. Sudan failed to appear. The Second Circuit affirmed default judgment. The Supreme Court reversed. Section 1608(a)(3) requires a mailing to be sent directly to the foreign minister’s office in the foreign state. A mailing is “addressed” to an intended recipient when his name and address are placed on the outside; “address” means “a residence or place of business.” A nation’s embassy in the United States is neither the residence nor the usual place of business of that nation’s foreign minister. Interpreting 1608(a)(3) to require that a service packet be sent to a foreign minister’s own office rather than to a mailroom employee in a foreign embassy harmonizes the rules for determining when service occurs and avoids tension with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. “In cases with sensitive diplomatic implications, the rule of law demands adherence to strict rules, even when the equities seem to point in the opposite direction.” View "Republic of Sudan v. Harrison" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs sued to set aside "fraudulent and voidable transactions” implemented to “hide millions of dollars in assets” after plaintiffs obtained a $68 million judgment in 2016. Plaintiffs added Admiring Dawn, a Hong Kong entity as a defendant. Plaintiffs retained ABC to work with the Hong Kong Central Authority to serve Admiring Dawn. In July 2017, the Central Authority issued a certificate stating it was unable to serve Admiring Dawn. Plaintiffs twice unsuccessfully attempted to serve Admiring Dawn via mail with return receipt requested. Admiring Dawn changed its name to Whyenlee. Plaintiffs filed a Third Amended Complaint naming Whyenlee as a defendant. Plaintiffs retained a Hong Kong-based law firm, CFN, which advised plaintiffs they could personally serve Whyenlee through an agent in Hong Kong and did not need to effect service through a judicial officer or public official. Plaintiffs used an agent to serve Whyenlee personally and sent the service documents via first class mail to Whyenlee. Whyenlee moved to quash service, arguing that plaintiffs failed to comply with the Hague Service Convention. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the motion. Submitting a request to a central authority is not the only method of service approved by the Convention. The Hong Kong agent who personally provided Whyenlee with the summons was, under Hong Kong law, a “competent person[] of the State of destination” to serve process without first making a request to the Central Authority View "Whyenlee Industries Ltd. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
Asgari came to the U.S. for education, earning a doctorate in 1997. He returned to Iran and became a professor at Sharif University. His work involves transmission electron microscopy. Asgari traveled to the U.S. in 2011, stating on his visa application that he planned to visit New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles. He traveled to Cleveland to see an Iranian-American friend at Case Western’s Swagelok Center. They began collaborating. Asgari returned to Iran and obtained another visa for “temp[orary] business[/]pleasure,” identifying his destination as his son’s New York address. He applied for a job at Swagelok. The FBI investigated. The Center’s director stated that Asgari was on a sabbatical from Sharif University; that the Center conducted Navy-funded research; and that an opening had emerged on the project. Agent Boggs obtained a warrant to search Asgari’s personal email account for evidence that Asgari made materially false statements in his visa application and that Asgari violated the prohibition on exporting “any goods, technology, or services to Iran.” Based on information uncovered from that 2013 search, the government obtained another warrant to search Asgari’s subsequent emails. Indicted on 13 counts of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud, and visa fraud, Asgari successfully moved to suppress the evidence. The Sixth Circuit reversed, applying the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The affidavit was not “so skimpy, so conclusory, that anyone ... would necessarily have known it failed to demonstrate probable cause.” The sanctions on Iran are broad; probable cause is a lenient standard. View "United States v. Asgari" on Justia Law

by
In 2010, the widow of a Taiwanese plastics magnate and billionaire filed suit against the trusts created before her husband's death, alleging that the transfer of a large portion of her husband's assets to the trusts unlawfully denied her the full marital estate to which she was entitled. The district court ultimately granted, subject to conditions, the trusts' motion to dismiss the complaint on forum non conveniens grounds. The DC Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the district court failed to give appropriate weight to the widow's legitimate choice of forum and erred in concluding that the private interest factors weighed slightly in favor of dismissal and in overemphasizing the public interest factors in deciding to dismiss this case on forum non conveniens grounds. In this case, the trusts failed to meet its heavy burden of showing that suit in the United States was so inconvenient as to be harassing, vexing, or oppressive. The court held that, the district court's errors, considered together, constituted a clear abuse of discretion. View "Shi v. New Mighty U.S. Trust" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, an American citizen, filed suit under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 (TVPA), against two foreign officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for alleged torture. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the foreign official immunity doctrine. The DC Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal and held that defendants were not entitled to conduct-based foreign official immunity under the common law. In this case, defendants were being sued in their individual capacities and plaintiff was not seeking compensation of state funds. The court explained that, in cases like this one, in which the plaintiff pursues an individual-capacity claim seeking relief against an official in a personal capacity, exercising jurisdiction did not enforce a rule against the foreign state. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Lewis v. Mutond" on Justia Law

by
Martirossian, a citizen of Armenia now living in China, refused to answer criminal charges, relating to money-laundering and conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. 1956, in the Southern District of Ohio. When his lawyers moved to dismiss the indictment, the court declared him a fugitive and refused to rule on the motion until he submitted himself to its jurisdiction. Martirossian appealed and in the alternative filed a mandamus petition asking the Sixth Circuit to order the district court to rule on his motion. The Sixth Circuit held that, because the district court’s decision is not a final order, it lacked jurisdiction over Martirossian’s appeal. Martirossian did not meet the high bar for granting the “extraordinary writ” of mandamus. Federal courts do not play “catch me if you can.” If a defendant refuses to appear to answer an indictment, ignores an arrest warrant, or leaves the jurisdiction, the court may decline to resolve any objections to the indictment in his absence. The “fugitive disentitlement doctrine” generally permits a federal court to insist on a defendant’s presence in the jurisdiction before it resolves challenges to the criminal charges. View "United States v. Martirossian" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against Tri Marine in Washington state court, seeking to recover additional expenses for a knee injury he experienced as a deck hand on one of Tri Marine's vessels. Tri Marine then removed the case to federal court and moved to confirm an order issued by an arbitrator in the Philippines as a foreign arbitral award. The district court denied plaintiff's motion to remand, confirmed the order, and dismissed the action. The Ninth Circuit held that the parties' free-floating settlement agreement and order did not transform into an arbitral award simply because the parties convened with an arbitrator. The panel evaluated the award by looking to its essence and found several unique aspects of these proceedings that lead it to concluded that the order was not an arbitral award. In this case, there was no outstanding dispute to arbitrate by the time plaintiff and Tri Marine sat down with the arbitrator as the parties had already reached a settlement; the purported arbitration in no way followed the parties' prior agreements to arbitrate; and the procedure here deviated completely from typical Philippine procedures. The panel reversed in part and vacated in part, remanding for the district court to assess jurisdiction under the Convention Act and venue, as well as any defenses. View "Castro v. Tri Marine Fish Co." on Justia Law

by
The 1945 International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA) grants international organizations the “same immunity from suit . . . as is enjoyed by foreign governments,” 22 U.S.C. 288a(b). At that time, foreign governments were entitled to virtually absolute immunity as a matter of international comity. In 1952, the State Department adopted a more restrictive theory, codified in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602, which gives foreign sovereign governments presumptive immunity from suit, subject to exceptions, including an exception for actions based on commercial activity with a sufficient nexus with the U.S. IFC, an IOIA international organization, borrowed from Coastal (based in India) to finance the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Gujarat. Petitioners sued IFC, claiming that pollution from the plant harmed the surrounding air, land, and water. The Third Circuit affirmed a holding that the IFC was immune from suit under the IOIA. The Supreme Court reversed. The IOIA affords international organizations the same immunity from suit that foreign governments enjoy today under the FSIA. The “same as” formulation makes international organization immunity and foreign sovereign immunity continuously equivalent. The Court noted other statutes that use similar language to place groups on equal footing. IOIA’s reference to the immunity enjoyed by foreign governments is to an external body of potentially evolving law. The fact that the President can modify otherwise applicable immunity rules is compatible with those rules changing over time in light of developments in the law governing foreign sovereign immunity. The Court noted the State Department’s position that immunity rules of IOIA and FSIA were linked following FSIA’s enactment and that an international organization’s charter can always specify a different level of immunity. View "Jam v. International Finance Corp." on Justia Law