Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The case involves a Ukrainian couple, Yasamin Karimi and Roman Tereshchenko, who divorced and disputed custody of their two children. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Tereshchenko agreed to Karimi removing the children from Ukraine for safety reasons, but requested that she bring them to him in Dubai. Instead, Karimi took the children to undisclosed locations, including the United States. Tereshchenko filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for the return of the children. The District Court granted Tereshchenko’s petition and ordered the children returned to him in France, where he was currently residing.Karimi appealed the decision, challenging the District Court's jurisdiction and arguing that Tereshchenko had consented to the children's removal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's jurisdiction and rejected Karimi's argument that Tereshchenko had consented to the children's removal. The Court of Appeals also found that the District Court had erred in determining that the children would not be exposed to a grave risk of harm if they were returned to western Ukraine. However, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court was permitted to order the return of the children to Tereshchenko in a third country, France, as a temporary measure due to the grave risk of harm in Ukraine. The case was remanded to the District Court to modify the order to maintain the Ukrainian courts’ authority over an ultimate custody determination. View "Tereshchenko v. Karimi" on Justia Law

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A German citizen, Asli Baz, filed a suit under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) to compel Anthony Patterson, a U.S. citizen, to return their six-year-old son, A.P., from Illinois to Germany. The couple had previously lived together in Chicago, but after their relationship ended, they continued to cohabit and share custody of their son. Baz later moved to Germany with A.P., with Patterson's consent. However, Patterson later took A.P. from his school in Germany and brought him back to the U.S., refusing to return him to Germany.The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois found that A.P.’s habitual residence at the time he was retained was in Germany, where he had lived with Baz for over a year, and that the retention in Illinois violated Baz’s rights of custody under German law. It thus granted Baz’s petition and ordered the child’s return. Patterson appealed, challenging both the jurisdiction of the district court and its rulings on the merits of the petition.The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court rejected Patterson's argument that the district court lacked jurisdiction due to a provision in the Illinois Allocation Judgment, which stated that the Circuit Court of the State of Illinois had exclusive jurisdiction over the case. The court also found that the district court did not err in determining that A.P.'s habitual residence was Germany, and that Baz was exercising her rights of custody at the time of the retention. The court emphasized that its decision did not touch on any matters of custody, which should be resolved by the courts of the child's habitual residence. View "Baz v. Patterson" on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute between GeLab Cosmetics LLC, a New Jersey-based online nail polish retailer, and Zhuhai Aobo Cosmetics, a China-based nail polish manufacturer. The founders of GeLab, Xingwang Chen and Shijian Li, are both Chinese citizens. The dispute centers around the ownership of GeLab and allegations of trade secret theft. According to Chen, he and Li founded GeLab with Chen owning 60% and Li 40%. They entered a joint venture with Zhuhai, which was supposed to invest in GeLab for an 80% ownership stake. However, Chen alleges that Zhuhai never sent the money and instead began using low-quality materials for GeLab's products, selling knock-off versions under its own brand, and fraudulently claiming majority ownership of GeLab. Zhuhai, on the other hand, asserts that Chen was its employee and that it owns 80% of GeLab.The dispute first began in China, where Li sued Chen for embezzlement. Chen then sued Li, Zhuhai, and Zhuhai's owners in New Jersey state court, alleging that he had a 60% controlling interest in GeLab and that Zhuhai had no ownership interest. The state defendants counterclaimed, seeking a declaratory judgment that Zhuhai owns 80% of GeLab. GeLab then filed a second action in New Jersey against Li alone. The state court consolidated the two cases.While the New Jersey proceedings were ongoing, GeLab filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Zhuhai and its owners, alleging violations of the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and the Illinois Trade Secrets Act. The defendants responded that Zhuhai owns GeLab and that it cannot steal trade secrets from itself. The district court stayed the federal case, citing the doctrine of Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States, reasoning that judicial economy favors waiting for the New Jersey court to determine who owns the company. GeLab appealed the stay.The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to stay the proceedings. The court found that the federal and state cases were parallel as they involved substantially the same parties litigating substantially the same issues. The court also found that exceptional circumstances warranted abstention, with at least seven factors supporting the district court's decision. These factors included the inconvenience of the federal forum, the desirability of avoiding piecemeal litigation, the order in which jurisdiction was obtained by the concurrent fora, the source of governing law, the adequacy of state-court action to protect the federal plaintiff's rights, the relative progress of state and federal proceedings, and the availability of concurrent jurisdiction. View "GeLab Cosmetics LLC v. Zhuhai Aobo Cosmetics Co., Ltd." on Justia Law

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The case involves 21 U.S. citizens and the family of a deceased U.S. citizen who were victims of rocket attacks by the Hizbollah terrorist organization in Israel in 2006. The plaintiffs allege that the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) provided financial services to Hizbollah, including facilitating millions of dollars in wire transfers through a New York-based correspondent bank. In 2011, LCB and Société Générale de Banque au Liban SAL (SGBL), a private company incorporated in Lebanon, executed a purchase agreement where SGBL acquired all of LCB's assets and liabilities. In 2019, the plaintiffs brought similar claims against SGBL, as LCB's successor, in the Eastern District of New York for damages stemming from the 2006 attacks.The federal district court dismissed the action for lack of personal jurisdiction over SGBL. The court interpreted several Appellate Division and federal decisions to allow imputation of jurisdictional status only in the event of a merger, not an acquisition of all assets and liabilities. On appeal, the Second Circuit certified two questions to the New York Court of Appeals, asking whether an entity that acquires all of another entity's liabilities and assets, but does not merge with that entity, inherits the acquired entity's status for purposes of specific personal jurisdiction, and under what circumstances the acquiring entity would be subject to specific personal jurisdiction in New York.The New York Court of Appeals answered the first question affirmatively, stating that where an entity acquires all of another entity's liabilities and assets, but does not merge with that entity, it inherits the acquired entity's status for purposes of specific personal jurisdiction. The court declined to answer the second question as unnecessary. The court reasoned that allowing a successor to acquire all assets and liabilities, but escape jurisdiction in a forum where its predecessor would have been answerable for those liabilities, would allow those assets to be shielded from direct claims for those liabilities in that forum. View "Lelchook v Société Générale de Banque au Liban SAL" on Justia Law

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The case involves Rimco Inc., an importer and reseller of wheels, who appealed against the United States Court of International Trade's dismissal of its action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Rimco sought judicial review of a denied protest against the assessment of countervailing and antidumping duties by Customs and Border Protection. Rimco argued that the Court of International Trade had exclusive jurisdiction to review the denial of protests under 28 U.S.C. § 1581(a), or alternatively, residual jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1581(i).Previously, the Court of International Trade had dismissed Rimco's action, stating that it lacked jurisdiction under § 1581(a) because Customs' application of antidumping and countervailing duties was not a protestable decision. The court also found that it lacked jurisdiction under § 1581(i) because jurisdiction under § 1581(c) would have been available if Rimco had sought administrative review of Commerce’s antidumping and countervailing duties determinations.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Court of International Trade's dismissal. The court held that Customs' ministerial assessment of antidumping and countervailing duties was not a protestable decision. Furthermore, the court found that jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1581(c) would have been available and not manifestly inadequate if Rimco had not failed to exhaust administrative remedies. Therefore, the Court of International Trade correctly dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Rimco Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals examined a case against Iran and Syria brought by Rotem and Yoav Golan, an Israeli couple injured in a terrorist attack. The plaintiffs and their relatives who suffered emotional trauma from the attack, accused Iran and Syria of supporting the terrorist group Hamas, which orchestrated the attack. The district court denied a default judgment to several plaintiffs, leading to this appeal.The appellate court ultimately held that the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the case. The court explained that although Congress has permitted federal courts to hear personal-injury claims arising from "extrajudicial killings" committed by state sponsors of terrorism, the attack in this case did not kill anyone, thus, it cannot be classified as an "extrajudicial killing". The plaintiffs could not identify any other basis for jurisdiction against the foreign-government defendants.The court pointed out that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 generally exempts foreign sovereigns from the reach of U.S. courts. This case falls within a statutory exception to that immunity, which was created by Congress in 1996 to withdraw foreign sovereign immunity for lawsuits that seek damages for personal injury or death caused by a state sponsor of terrorism. However, the court concluded that the exception did not apply because the attacker did not kill anyone.The court vacated the judgment of the district court with respect to the plaintiffs before the court and remanded for dismissal of their claims. View "Borochov v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

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This case was brought by the plaintiffs-appellants, David Cassirer, the Estate of Ava Cassirer, and the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County, against the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation, an instrumentality of the Kingdom of Spain. The case centers around a painting by French Impressionist Camille Pissarro, which was stolen by the Nazis in 1939 Germany. The painting eventually came into the possession of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, which has publicly displayed it in Madrid, Spain since 1993. When the plaintiffs learned of the painting's location in 2000, they petitioned for its return, but were denied, leading to the present lawsuit filed in 2005.The case hinged on whether Spanish or California law should govern the determination of ownership of the painting. Under Spanish law, the defendant would retain the painting, having gained prescriptive title through possession for over three years in good faith. Under California law, the plaintiffs would recover the painting, as a thief cannot pass good title to stolen property.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, on remand from the United States Supreme Court, applied California’s three-step “governmental interest analysis” for choice-of-law disputes. The court found that there was a true conflict between the laws of Spain and California, and that each jurisdiction had a legitimate interest in applying its laws to the case. The court then resolved the conflict by applying the law of the jurisdiction whose governmental interests would be more impaired if its law were not applied. The court concluded that Spain’s governmental interests would be more impaired by the application of California law than would California’s governmental interests be impaired by the application of Spanish law. Thus, Spanish law applied, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection had gained prescriptive title to the painting. The court affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. View "CASSIRER V. THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA COLLECTION" on Justia Law

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This case involves a dispute between two law firms, each of which claims the right to represent a Salvadoran company in its efforts to stave off a transnational judgment-collection effort. Specifically, the two firms are vying to defend ALBA Petróleos de El Salvador S.E.M. de C.V. (“ALBA”) in district court from the enforcement of a $45 million default judgment obtained against Colombian narco-terrorist organizations. Marcos D. Jiménez appeared to represent ALBA. White & Case LLP moved to substitute itself as ALBA’s counsel. Both purport to represent ALBA. White & Case argued that the political-question doctrine, the act-of-state doctrine, and Venezuelan law required the district court to allow it to represent ALBA. Jiménez responded that he had the right to represent ALBA under Salvadoran law. The district court denied White & Case’s motion, holding that the issue was governed by Salvadoran law. White & Case filed an interlocutory appeal and, in the alternative, a petition for a writ of mandamus.   The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal and denied the petition for a writ of mandamus. The court wrote that it lacks appellate jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal of the denial of a third-party motion to substitute counsel. The court explained that such an appeal fails to satisfy the requirements of the collateral order doctrine because the denial of a motion to substitute counsel is effectively reviewable after final judgment and does not implicate an important issue separate from the merits of the underlying action. White & Case also does not meet the demanding standard required to obtain a writ of mandamus. View "In re ALBA Petróleos de El Salvador S.E.M. de C.V." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, several family members of a United States citizen killed in an overseas terrorist attack, appealed from the district court’s judgment dismissing their claims against the Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”) and the Palestinian Authority (“PA”) for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Government, as intervenor in accordance with 28 U.S.C. Section 2403(a) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.1(c), also appealed from that judgment. On appeal, both Plaintiffs and the Government argued that the district court erred in finding unconstitutional the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (“PSJVTA”), the statute on which Plaintiffs relied to allege personal jurisdiction over Defendants.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the PSJVTA specifically provides that the PLO and the PA “shall be deemed to have consented to personal jurisdiction” in any civil action pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 2333, irrespective of “the date of the occurrence of the act of international terrorism” at issue, upon engaging in certain forms of post-enactment conduct, namely (1) making payments, directly or indirectly, to the designees or families of incarcerated or deceased terrorists, respectively, whose acts of terror injured or killed a United States national, or (2) undertaking any activities within the United States, subject to a handful of exceptions. Thus, the court concluded that the PSJVTA’s “deemed consent” provision is inconsistent with the dictates of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. View "Fuld v. Palestine Liberation Organization" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of United States citizens injured during terror attacks in Israel and the estates or survivors of United States citizens killed in such attacks, brought an action against the Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”) and the Palestinian Authority (“PA”) pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”), seeking damages. The Second Circuit concluded on appeal that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the PLO and the PA and vacated the judgment entered against Defendants. Plaintiffs later moved to recall the mandate based on a new statute, the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018. The Second Circuit denied that motion. Congress responded with the statute now at issue, the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (“PSJVTA”). The district court concluded that Defendants had engaged in jurisdiction-triggering conduct under the statute but that the PSJVTA violated constitutional due process requirements. Plaintiffs and the Government disputed the latter conclusion, and Plaintiffs argued generally that the PSJVTA justifies recalling the mandate.   The Second Circuit denied Plaintiffs’ motion to call the mandate. The court explained that the PSJVTA provides that the PLO and the PA “shall be deemed to have consented to personal jurisdiction” in any civil ATA action if, after a specified time, those entities either (1) make payments, directly or indirectly, to the designees or families of incarcerated or deceased terrorists, respectively, whose acts of terror injured or killed a United States national, or (2) undertake any activities within the United States, subject to limited exceptions. The court concluded that the PSJVTA’s provision for “deemed consent” to personal jurisdiction is inconsistent with the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. View "Waldman v. Palestine Liberation Organization" on Justia Law