Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

by
U.S.-flagged ships on the high seas do not fall within the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's (FSIA), 26 U.S.C. 1605, non-commercial torts exception. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Israeli Defense Forces attacked the vessel they were on and detained them in violation of international law. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint based on Israel's immunity from suit, finding that neither the "non-commercial torts" nor "terrorism" exceptions of the FSIA allowed jurisdiction. The court rejected plaintiffs' contention that Congress' amendment of the FSIA exception eliminated the requirement that a state be designated a sponsor of terrorism for the exception to apply. View "Schermerhorn v. State of Israel" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit against Sudan for personal injuries suffered by victims of the al Qaeda embassy bombings and their families in Nairobi, Kenya and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The DC Circuit held that the purpose and statutory history of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) support the conclusion that the plain meaning of 28 U.S.C. 1605A(a) grants the courts jurisdiction over claims against designated state sponsors of terrorism that materially support extrajudicial killings committed by nonstate actors; plaintiffs have offered sufficient admissible evidence that establishes that Sudan's material support of al Qaeda proximately caused the 1998 embassy bombings and the district court, therefore, correctly held that plaintiffs met their burden of production under the FSIA terrorism exception; the limitation period in section 1605A(b) was not jurisdictional, and thus Sudan forfeited its affirmative defense to the Khaliq, Opati, and Aliganga actions by failing to raise it in the district court; a plaintiff proceeding under either state or federal law cannot recover punitive damages for conduct occurring prior to the enactment of section 1605A; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in failing to vacate the default judgments for "excusable neglect" and in denying Sudan's motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6). Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's findings of jurisdiction with respect to all plaintiffs and all claims; affirmed the district court's denial of vacatur; vacated all awards of punitive damages; and certified a question of state law – whether a plaintiff must be present at the scene of a terrorist bombing in order to recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) – to the D.C. Court of Appeals. View "Owens v. Republic of Sudan" on Justia Law

by
In this contract dispute between Getma and the Republic of Guinea, the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (CCJA), a court of supranational jurisdiction for Western and Central African States, set aside an award in favor of Getma. Getma sought to enforce the annulled award in the United States. The D.C. Circuit held that the CCJA is "a competent authority" for purposes of article V(1)(e) of the New York Convention, and for reasons of international comity, the court declined to second-guess a competent authority's annulment of an arbitral award absent extraordinary circumstances. Because Getma's arguments failed under this stringent standard, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court refusing to enforce the award. View "Getma International v. Republic of Guinea" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment stating that their family members were killed in the course of a U.S. drone attack in violation of international law governing the use of force, the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), and the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The district court dismissed the claims primarily based on political question grounds. The DC Circuit affirmed and held that it was not the role of the Judiciary to second-guess the determination of the Executive, in coordination with the Legislature, that the interests of the U.S. called for a particular military action in the ongoing War on Terror. In this case, El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Co. v. United States, 607 F.3d 836 (D.C. Cir. 2010), controlled the court's analysis and compelled dismissal of plaintiffs' claims. View "Bin Ali Jaber v. United States" on Justia Law

by
A group of Indian nationals filed suit against the IFC, alleging that a power plant financed by the IFC caused damage to surrounding communities in Gujarat, India. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that the IFC was immune to this suit under the International Organizations Immunities Act, 22 U.S.C. 288, and did not waive immunity for this suit in its Articles of Agreement. View "Jam v. International Finance Corp." on Justia Law

by
This case stems from the Herzog family's effort to recover a valuable art collection seized during the Holocaust. On remand, the district court concluded that the family's claims against the Republic of Hungary, its museums, and a state university satisfied the expropriation exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1604, and that no other provision of the Act barred their claims. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that the Herzog family's claims to art never returned to them satisfied the Act's expropriation exception; remanded for the district court, with respect to art that was returned to the Herzog family, to determine whether the claim to recover each piece may proceed under the expropriation exception; instructed the district court to dismiss the Republic of Hungary as a defendant and to grant the Herzog family leave to amend their complaint in light of the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, Pub. L. 114–308, 130 Stat. 1524; and dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction Hungary's appeal from the denial of its motion to dismiss on exhaustion grounds. View "De Csepel v. Republic of Hungary" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff and her husband filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1), 2671-2680, against the government after she suffered severe injuries in her diplomatic housing when stationed overseas in Haiti. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit because plaintiffs' action fell within an exception to the FTCA's waiver of sovereign immunity for injuries arising in a foreign country. Even assuming without deciding that all overseas diplomatic housing should receive the same treatment under the FTCA as a United States embassy, plaintiffs' claim was foreclosed by circuit precedent. In Macharia v. United States, 334 F.3d 61, 69, the court concluded that the FTCA's foreign country exception applied to injuries occurring at a United States embassy. View "Galvin v. United States" on Justia Law