Articles Posted in U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs sought damages for terrorist acts committed while they were held hostage in the jungles of Columbia. Plaintiffs suffered repeated acts of international terrorism at the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC). In an effort to collect their default judgment against FARC, plaintiffs filed a motion for a Writ of Garnishment in the district court against Mercurio's frozen assets. At issue was whether assets frozen pursuant only to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, 21 U.S.C. 1901 et seq., qualified as "blocked assets" under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (Terrorism Act), Pub. L. No. 107-297, 116 Stat. 2322. Under the plain language of the statute, the court held that such assets were not "blocked assets" and thus, the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs relied on an erroneous interpretation of the Terrorism Act. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Stansell, et al v. Mercurio International S.A., et al" on Justia Law

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This case involved claims brought by cabin stewards against their employer, Celebrity Cruises, and against the Union (FIT) that represented them. Because the stewards were foreign employees involved in an internal wage dispute with a foreign ship, neither the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 185, nor the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 159, applied to the stewards' challenges. Since their claims were dependent upon the protections of those acts, the district court properly dismissed their claims against Celebrity and FIT. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court in Appeal No. 10-13623. Because the stewards could have raised their Seaman's Wage Act, 46 U.S.C. 10313, claim in Lobo II but did not, the court affirmed the district court's order in Gomez as barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court in Appeal No. 10-10406 View "Lobo, et al v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc., et al" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a dispute related to the purchase of a lot in the Bahamas. The court held that the district court erred when it determined that the appraisal fraud claims were within the scope of the lot purchase contract's forum-selection clause. The court also held that the district court erred in applying equitable estoppel to allow the nonsignatories to the lot purchase contract to invoke the lot purchase contract's Bahamian forum-selection clause. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment granting the motion to dismiss for improper venue and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bahamas Sales Assoc., LLC v. Byers" on Justia Law

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In these three consolidated appeals, the court must decide issues about the enforceability of German bonds issued during the period between World War I and World War II. The court concluded that the district court had jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1330, 1302-1311, over the complaint against Germany filed by Sovereign Bonds regarding its Agra bonds issued in the territory that later became East Germany; all the bonds were subject to the 1953 Validation Treaty and must be validated before they could be enforced in American courts; the complaint filed by World Holdings to enforce its validated bonds was untimely; and the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied discovery to Sovereign Bonds on the issue of validation. View "World Holdings, LLC v. Federal Republic of Germany" on Justia Law

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Defendants were convicted of drug related charges after they were arrested in Panama and the Panamanian Government consented to their prosecution in the United States. At issue was the scope of congressional power to proscribe conduct abroad: whether the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, 46 U.S.C. 70503(a), 70506, exceeded the power of Congress to "define and punish... Offences against the Law of Nations," as applied to the drug-trafficking activities of defendants in the territorial waters of Panama. Because the court concluded that drug trafficking was not an "Offense against the Law of Nations" and that Congress could not constitutionally proscribe defendants' conduct under the Offences Clause, the court vacated their convictions. View "United States v. Bellaizac-Hurtado" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a Honduran national, appealed the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. This appeal involved the constitutional separation of powers and the limited judicial role in the extradition of a foreign national. On appeal, petitioner contended that the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment barred his extradition by the Secretary of State, that the murder of the victim constituted a political offense for which he could not be extradited, and there was no valid extradition treaty in force between Honduras and the United States. The court held that petitioner's first argument was not ripe because the Secretary of State has not yet determined whether he was likely to be tortured nor decided whether to extradite him, and his other arguments lacked merit. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and affirmed in part the denial of petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, lifted the stay of the extradition proceedings, and remanded with instructions to dismiss petitioner's claim under the Convention Against Torture. View "Meza v. U.S. Attorney General, et al." on Justia Law

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In a consolidated appeal, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad appealed the District Court's denial of its asserted right to victim status under the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA) and sought restitution. In December 2010, the United States filed a criminal information against Alcatel-Lucent, charging it with violating provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The government simultaneously filed criminal informations against three subsidiaries of Alcatel-Lucent (Alcatel-Lucent France, Alcatel Lucent Trade International, and Alcatel Centroamerica) charging them with conspiracy to violate the FCPA's accounting and anti-bribery provisions. In 2011, Alcatel-Lucent entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and factual proffer with the United States. The agreement deferred prosecution for three years, subject to Alcatel-Lucent's compliance with specific reforms in its accounting and oversight controls, and required Alcatel-Lucent to pay a penalty of $92 million. The facts proffered in Alcatel-Lucent's deferred prosecution agreement identified Appellant Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE). Alcatel-Lucent admitted that it hired and paid unusually large fees to "consultants," who in turn curried favor with ICE officials and board members to secure telecommunications contracts by offering direct bribes or kickbacks from any contracts awarded by ICE to Alcatel-Lucent or its subsidiaries. After thorough review of the record, and with the benefit of oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal. View "United States v. Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad" on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned the Eleventh Circuit's authority to review an order remanding an action based on an antecedent and erroneous ruling that an agreement to arbitrate was unenforceable. Petitioner St. Hugh Williams filed in a Florida court a complaint that, while working onboard the M/V Norwegian Sky, he was injured as a result of the negligence and other tortious conduct of the owner of the ship, NCL (Bahamas) Ltd. NCL removed the action to the district court on the ground that Petitioner was contractually bound to arbitrate his complaint under the United Nations Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, but Petitioner moved to remand the action to state court. The district court ruled that the arbitration clause was unenforceable and granted Petitioner's motion to remand. NCL appealed, and the Eleventh Circuit later held in "Lindo v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd.," (652 F.3d 1257 (11th Cir. 2011)), that an agreement to arbitrate under the Convention is enforceable. Petitioner argued that the Eleventh Circuit lacked jurisdiction, but the Court found that it had jurisdiction to review the denial of the motion to compel under "City of Waco v. U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co.," (293 U.S. 140 (1934)). The Court reversed the order denying the motion to compel of NCL, vacated the order remanding Petitioner's complaint to state court, and remanded the case with instructions to compel arbitration. View "Williams v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a foreign shipping contract billing dispute between Consorcio Ecuatoriano de Telecomunicaciones S.A. (CONECEL) and Jet Air Service Equador S.A. (JASE). CONECEL filed an application in the Southern District of Florida under 28 U.S.C. 1782 to obtain discovery for use in foreign proceedings in Ecuador. According to CONECEL, the foreign proceedings included both a pending arbitration brought by JASE against CONECEL for nonpayment under the contract, and contemplated civil and private criminal suits CONECEL might bring against two of its former employees who, CONECEL claims, may have violated Ecuador's collusion laws in connection with processing and approving JASE's allegedly inflated invoices. CONECEL's application sought discovery from JASE's United States counterpart, JAS Forwarding (USA), Inc. (JAS USA), which does business in Miami and was involved in the invoicing operations at issue in the dispute. The district court granted the application and authorized CONECEL to issue a subpoena. Thereafter, JASE intervened and moved to quash the subpoena and vacate the order granting the application. The district court denied the motion, as well as a subsequent motion for reconsideration. JASE appealed the denial of both. After thorough review and having had the benefit of oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the orders of the district court. the Court concluded that the panel before which which JASE and CONECEL's dispute was pending acts as a first-instance decisionmaker; it permits the gathering and submission of evidence; it resolves the dispute; it issues a binding order; and its order is subject to judicial review. The discovery statute requires nothing more. The Court also held that the district court did not abuse its considerable discretion in granting the section 1782 discovery application over JASE's objections that it would be forced to produce proprietary and confidential information. The application was narrowly tailored and primarily requested information concerning JASE's billing of CONECEL, which was undeniably at issue in the current dispute between the parties." Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying JASE's motion for reconsideration. View "In re: Application of Consorcio Ecuatoriano" on Justia Law

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MARPOL is the common name for the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1340 U.N.T.S. 62. At issue was whether the United States had jurisdiction to prosecute a nominated surveyor for knowingly violating the MARPOL treaty while aboard a foreign vessel docked in the United States. After thorough review of the relevant treaty and U.S. law, the court held that the United States had jurisdiction to prosecute surveyors for MARPOL violations committed in U.S. ports. Further, under the court's lenient standards of review for issues raised for the first time on appeal, the court found no reversible error in the indictment or jury instructions. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's denial of judgment of acquittal. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's conviction. View "United States v. Pena" on Justia Law