Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States v. Xu
Defendants, four Chinese nationals, appealed their convictions and sentences for federal crimes that they committed as part of a scheme to steal funds from the Bank of China, where two of the defendants were high-level employees. Defendants also appealed their convictions related to their efforts to escape prosecution and to retain the proceeds by illegal transfers of funds and by immigration fraud. The court held that defendants' count one convictions were not the result of an improper extraterritorial application of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962(d), conspiracy statute because defendants' criminal enterprise involved both bank fraud and immigration fraud centered on stealing money from the Bank of China and traveling freely with that stolen money in the United States. The evidence was sufficient to support convictions on money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to transport stolen money. The court remanded for resentencing because the district court improperly relied on defendants' foreign conduct to meet the requirements of U.S.S.G. 2S1(a)(1)(A) resulting in procedural error, improperly applied a one-level enhancement based on foreign conduct, and failed to provide an adequate legal and factual basis for the restitution order. View "United States v. Xu" on Justia Law
Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola, Inc., et al
In this interlocutory appeal, Motorola appealed from the district court's preliminary injunction to enjoin Motorola temporarily from enforcing a patent injunction that it obtained against Microsoft in Germany. The underlying case before the district court concerned how to interpret and enforce patent-holders' commitments to industry standard-setting organizations (SSOs), which established technical specifications to ensure that products from different manufacturers were compatible with each other. Specifically, the case involved the H.264 video coding standard set by International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and the 802.11 wireless local area network standard set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The court held that, under the unique circumstances of this case, the district court's narrowly tailored preliminary injunction was not an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola, Inc., et al" on Justia Law
Sachs v. Republic of Austria, et al
Plaintiff sued Austrian-owned OBB after sustaining personal injuries as a result of her attempt to board a moving train in Innsbruck. In this case, the court considered what acts could be attributed to a foreign state in applying the commercial activity exception to immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602 et seq. The court concluded that Rail Pass Experts' sale of the Eurorail pass could not, under Doe v. Holy See, be imputed to OBB. Plaintiff did not allege a day-to-day, routine involvement of OBB in Eurorail, much less Rail Pass Experts. Therefore, the court held that OBB engaged in no commercial activity within the United States that would strip it of its immunity. View "Sachs v. Republic of Austria, et al" on Justia Law
Garamendi v. Hennin
Sierra filed a motion under FRCP 60 in the district court that had issued default judgments against defendant, an officer of a French corporation that bought assets from an insolvent California insurance company pursuant to a rehabilitation plan, asking that court to correct judgments to add an explanation sufficient to permit its enforcement in France. The district court granted the motion and entered two corrected judgments. Defendant appealed. The court affirmed because the operative, substantive terms of the corrected judgments were identical to the terms of the original judgments. Therefore, the amendments only clarified the original intent of the judgments, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in making those changes under Rule 60(a). The court also held that, by failing to challenge the original judgments, defendant waived his arguments as to setoff, release, and the nature and amount of his liability. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to stay entry of the amended or corrected judgments. View "Garamendi v. Hennin" on Justia Law
Ministry of Defense v. Cubic Defense System
This case involved a breach of contract claim for the sale and service of an air combat maneuvering range for use by Iran's military. At issue was whether confirmation of an arbitration award in favor of the Ministry of Defense and Support for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran was "contrary to the public policy" of the United States under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, known as the "New York Convention," 9 U.S.C. 201-208. The court held that confirmation of the award did not violate any public policy. The court also held that the district court's judgment was a "money judgment" subject to postjudgment interest, and that a district court had discretion to award prejudgment interest and attorney's fees in an action to confirm an arbitration award under the Convention. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment in part, vacated it in part, and remanded to the district court for reconsideration of the Ministry's motions for prejudgment interest and attorney's fees. View "Ministry of Defense v. Cubic Defense System" on Justia Law
Sarei, et al. v. Rio Tinto, PLC, et al.
This Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, case arose out of the operations of Rio Tinto mining group on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the uprising against Rio Tinto in the late 1980's that resulted in the use of military force and many deaths. The only claims before the court on appeal were plaintiffs' claims for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and racial discrimination. As a preliminary matter, the court addressed claims regarding more sweeping legal principles that Rio Tinto and the dissent argued which called for the dismissal of the entire action. The court held that only plaintiffs' claims of genocide and war crimes fell within the limited federal jurisdiction created by the ATS and that the crimes against humanity arising from a blockade and the racial discrimination claims did not. Accordingly, the district court's order on prudential exhaustion was affirmed; the district court's dismissal of the claims for racial discrimination and crimes against humanity was affirmed; the dismissal of the claims for genocide and war crimes was reversed; and the case remanded for further proceedings on the claims of genocide and war crimes. View "Sarei, et al. v. Rio Tinto, PLC, et al." on Justia Law
Suzlon Energy Ltd. v. Microsoft Corp.
This case stemmed from Suzlon's demand that Microsoft produce documents from the Microsoft Hotmail email account of Rajagopalan Sridhar, an Indian citizen imprisoned abroad. Microsoft objected to the production and the district court agreed, finding that Sridhar was entitled to the protections of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), 18 U.S.C. 2510-2522, even though he was a foreign citizen. The court held that the ECPA protected the domestic communications of non-citizens like Sridhar. Thus, the decision of the district court denying the production of documents was affirmed. View "Suzlon Energy Ltd. v. Microsoft Corp." on Justia Law
Cape Flattery Ltd. v. Titan Maritime, LLC
Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant, seeking indemnity and/or contribution based on the damage defendant allegedly caused through gross negligence in removing plaintiff's vessel from a coral reef. At issue was whether the district court properly denied defendant's motion to compel arbitration of the dispute under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., where defendant alleged that the district court erred in refusing to apply English arbitrability law. The court held that based on the Supreme Court's reasoning in First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, courts should apply non-federal arbitrability law only if there was clear and unmistakable evidence that the parties intended to apply such non-federal law. Because there was no clear and unmistakable evidence in this case, federal arbitrability law applied. Under federal arbitrability law, the court's decisions in Mediterranean Enterprises, Inc. v. Ssangyong Construction Co. and Tracer Research Corp. v. National Environmental Services, Co., mandated a narrow interpretation of a clause providing for arbitration of all disputes "arising under" an agreement. Under this narrow interpretation, the present dispute was not arbitrable. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Cape Flattery Ltd. v. Titan Maritime, LLC" on Justia Law
Phifer v. Icelandair
Plaintiff sued Icelandair in federal district court, alleging that it was liable for her injuries under Article 17 of the Convention of the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Transportation by Air (Montreal Convention), which established that air carriers were liable for accidents that occurred to passengers while they were boarding, aboard, or disembarking aircraft, S. Treaty Doc. No. 106-45, 33. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment on behalf of Icelandair. The court held that a plaintiff did not have to prove that an airline violated a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standard to establish that there was an "accident" under Article 17 of the Montreal Convention. The court also held that because the district court held otherwise, requiring plaintiff to provide evidence that the airline had failed to meet FAA requirements in order to survive summary judgment, the court reversed and remanded. View "Phifer v. Icelandair" on Justia Law
Carijano, et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Corp., et al.
Plaintiffs, 25 members of the Achuar indigenous group dependent for their existence upon the rainforest lands and waterways along the Rio Corrientes in Peru, and Amazon Watch, a California corporation, sued Occidental Peruana ("OxyPeru") in Los Angeles County Superior Court for environmental contamination and release of hazardous waste. OxyPeru's headquarters were located in Los Angeles County but OxyPeru removed the suit to federal district court where it successfully moved for dismissal on the ground that Peru was a more convenient forum. At issue was whether the district court properly dismissed the suit on the basis of forum non conveniens. The court reversed the dismissal and held that the district court failed to consider all relevant private and public interest factors, entirely overlooking enforceability of judgments factor, which weighed heavily against dismissal. The court also held that the district court correctly assumed that Amazon Watch was a proper domestic plaintiff, but erroneously afforded reduced deference to its chosen forum and ignored the group entirely in the analysis of numerous factors. Therefore, these errors led the district court to misconstrue factors that were neutral or weighed against dismissal, and to strike an unreasonable balance between the factors and deference due a domestic plaintiff's chosen forum. The court further held that the district court abused its discretion by failing to impose conditions on its dismissal that were warranted by facts in the record showing justifiable reasons to doubt OxyPeru's full cooperation in the foreign forum.