Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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The Court of Appeal affirmed the family law court's order denying father's petition filed pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, concluding that father did not bear his burden of establishing the existence of ameliorative measures to ensure his children's safety. In this appeal concerning an international custody dispute involving the two minor children of an American mother and a Chilean father, mother was subjected to acts of domestic violence and emotional abuse by father, which was sometimes committed in the presence of the children.The court concluded that it is a reasonable inference from the evidence that father will continue to drink to excess and drive while intoxicated, thus exposing his children to a grave risk of harm. Given father's failure to acknowledge his excessive drinking and acts of domestic violence, as well as his repeated acts of driving while intoxicated, the court explained that there are no ameliorative measures that will mitigate the grave risk of harm to his children. View "Emilie D.L.M. v. Carlos C." on Justia Law

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Wang initiated the dissolution of marriage proceedings against Zhou. The parties have a daughter, born in 2013 in China. Daughter lived primarily in China with Zhou but made frequent, extended trips to the U.S. to visit Wang, who worked in California. The court assumed emergency jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA, Fam. Code 3400): Daughter would return to China with Zhou, and then return to California for extended periods. The parties agreed they would either register the California order or create an identical order in China "so that there will be a fully enforceable order in both jurisdictions.”In 2018, Zhou sought to register a Chinese judgment. Zhou had alleged to the Chinese court that Wang “tricked” her; that court denied Wang’s request to implement the California judgment and determined that Zhou should have sole custody. Wang opposed the registration of the order and asked the court to order Zhou to return Daughter to the U.S. for visitation. Wang had participated in the Chinese proceedings and was appealing the Chinese judgment. The court ordered Zhou to comply with the 2016 order and denied Zhou’s request to register the Chinese judgment.The court of appeal affirmed. The trial court did not explicitly rule that it had UCCJEA jurisdiction, nor did Wang argue that the court had superior jurisdiction over the Chinese court regarding child custody. The court properly denied registration because Wang established that the Chinese court, as a court with jurisdiction, stayed the judgment. View "Marriage of Wang & Zhou" 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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In this opinion, the Court of Appeal addressed three consolidated appeals relating to a judgment for the return of a child in an international custody dispute. This case was retried after the Court reversed an earlier judgment marred by due process violations. After remand, the trial court again granted father’s petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Convention) and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), for return of the child to her father’s custody in Denmark, her country of habitual residence. The court also awarded father his attorney fees and other expenses as the prevailing party under the Convention and ICARA. Mother filed separate appeals of the return order and the fees award and two post judgment sealing orders related to the parties’ use of the transcript of the trial judge’s confidential interview with the child during the trial. The Court of Appeal determined mother’s appeal of the return order was moot because the child was nearly 18 years old, and the Convention did not apply after the child who was the subject of the return petition turns 16. The Court reversed the fees award, because mother had no opportunity for a full and fair hearing on father’s motion for fees. As for mother’s appeal of the postjudgment sealing orders, the Court found no merit to the appeal and affirmed the orders. View "Noergaard v. Noergaard" on Justia Law

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Saw worked for Avago’s Malaysian subsidiary and could acquire ordinary shares and stock options of Avago stock under a management shareholders' agreement governed by the laws of Singapore. The agreement allowed Avago to repurchase shares and options at fair market value should an employee be terminated “for any reason whatsoever” within five years from the date of purchase. After Saw’s position was eliminated in 2009, Avago repurchased his equitable interest. Saw sued Avago’s subsidiary for wrongful termination and obtained a favorable judgment in Malaysia. Saw separately sued Avago in San Mateo County, asserting that Avago breached the shareholders' agreement by relying on an unlawful termination to repurchase his shares.The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of Avago. Saw is not entitled to any relief under Singapore law. The shareholders' agreement's choice of law provision requires the application of the substantive law of Singapore. Whether his termination was lawful or unlawful under Malaysian law has no bearing on Avago’s contractual right to repurchase shares acquired by a former employee. Saw’s breach of contract claim fails as a matter of law under the express terms of the shareholders' agreement. Saw has no viable cause of action under an implied duty of good faith. View "Saw v. Avago Technologies, Ltd." on Justia Law

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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

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In a child custody proceeding arising under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by granting mother's motion to quash temporary emergency orders on child custody and visitation. The trial court had found that a Belarus residency action was a child custody proceeding within the meaning of the UCCJEA, and the Belarus court had jurisdiction substantially in conformity with the UCCJEA.The court held that the UCCJEA mandates that before a child custody determination is made, notice and an opportunity to be heard must be given to all persons entitled to notice. In this case, father received no notice of the Belarus action, and notice was not given in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice. Therefore, the Belarus court did not have jurisdiction in conformity with UCCJEA standards. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "W.M. v. V.A." on Justia Law

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R.B. (father) and D.R. (mother) were citizens of India who were married in India. They came to California, where they had their only child, a daughter, born in October 2013. In December 2016, the father allegedly slapped the child and hit the mother. In February 2017, the mother discovered that the father was involved with another woman. She immediately left for India with the child. In 2017, the mother obtained a restraining order in India giving her sole custody of the child. Shortly thereafter, the father obtained an ex parte order (later stayed) in California giving him sole custody of the child. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court ruled that it had jurisdiction, but that India was a more appropriate forum. It therefore stayed the California proceeding. The father appealed, contending the trial court erred by finding that India was a more appropriate forum, because: (1) India did not have concurrent jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA); and (2) the trial court misevaluated the statutorily relevant factors. In the published portion of its opinion, the California Court of Appeal held India could be an inconvenient forum even if it did not have concurrent jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. In the nonpublished portion, the Court found no other error. Hence, the Court affirmed. View "R.B. v. D.R." 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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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