Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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Plaintiffs, relatives of eight Bolivian civilians killed in 2003 during a period of civil crisis in Bolivia, filed suit under the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA) against the former President of Bolivia and the former Defense Minister of Bolivia for the extrajudicial killings and wrongful deaths of their family members based on their alleged conduct in perpetuating the crisis. After the jury rendered its verdict, the district court granted defendants' renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on the TVPA claims.The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court conflated the standard for an extrajudicial killing with the theory of liability tying defendants to the decedents' deaths. The court also held that the evidence of deaths caused by a soldier acting under orders to use excessive or indiscriminate force could provide a legally sufficient foundation to support a TVPA claim. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for the district court to determine, in the first instance and under the correct standard, whether plaintiffs put forth sufficient evidence to show that the deaths were extrajudicial killings, and, if so, whether there is sufficient evidence to hold defendants liable for such killings under the command-responsibility doctrine. In regard to the wrongful-death claims, the court held that the district court erroneously admitted the State Department cables. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded for a new trial on the wrongful-death claims. View "Rojas Mamani v. Sanchez De Lozada Sanchez Bustamante" on Justia Law

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Thirty-nine plaintiffs—two American and thirty-seven foreign—filed suit agianst Citigroup, claiming that fraudulent cash advances lured them into investing in or contracting with Oceanografía and that either Citigroup or Oceanografía knowingly misrepresented Oceanografía's financial stability.The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of Citigroup's motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens, holding that the district court did not apply the deference owed to the domestic plaintiffs, and it erred in weighing the Gulf Oil private interest factors as to all the plaintiffs because Citigroup did not satisfy its burden. In this case, the court held that the district court mistakenly gave only "reduced" deference to the domestic plaintiffs' choice of forum. The court also held that Citigroup—which had the burden of persuasion—did not support its claims that most of the relevant documents and witnesses are located in Mexico. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings, including consideration of the United States' interests under the public interest factors. View "Otto Candies, LLC v. Citigroup, Inc." on Justia Law

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Respondent appealed the district court's order confirming a $28 million international arbitration award in favor of EGI. EGI sought to enforce the Chilean award in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by filing a petition to confirm the international arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act.The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that service in Brazil was proper and that this arbitration award should be confirmed. The court held that the district court did not err in finding that considerations of international comity counseled against reviewing the Brazilian court's determination that respondent had been properly served in accordance with Brazilian law, especially since the Convention on Letters Rogatory commits jurisdiction of this issue to the courts of Brazil.However, the court vacated the district court's order and remanded with instructions to correct two errors that the district court committed in enforcing the award. In this case, the district court clearly erred in accepting EGI's calculations, which converted UF to pesos to U.S. dollars on January 23, 2012, rather than the proper conversion date under the breach day rule, January 13, 2012. Furthermore, instead of enforcing the Arbitration Award as requested by EGI, the district court's order should have required respondent to pay the purchase price set out in the Shareholders' Agreement and the Award and in exchange required EGI to tender its shares. View "EGI-VSR, LLC v. Juan Carlos Celestino Coderch Mitjans" on Justia Law

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Mother filed suit under the Hague Convention, seeking the return of her daughter from Florida back to Chile. The district court found that mother made a prima facie case that father hand wrongfully retained daughter, but that mother had consented to the retention and thus was not entitled to the daughter's return.The Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the district court made critical errors of fact and law in its order. The court held that none of the testimony that father did give could be interpreted as constituting a denial that he threatened mother. The court also held that the district court improperly, but expressly, shifted the burden back to mother on the consent issue. Therefore, the district court erroneously treated her allegation that she signed the consent letter as a result of father's threat as a formal allegation of "duress" that she had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence. View "Berenguela-Alvarado v. Castanos" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the denial of her petition to "vacate and/or alternatively to deny recognition and enforcement" of the foreign arbitral award in favor of her employer, Carnival, on her claims under the Jones Act and U.S. maritime law for injuries related to her carpal tunnel.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the petition, holding that plaintiff failed to establish that the foreign arbitral award offended the United States' most basic notions of morality and justice. Weighing the policies at issue and considering the specific unique factual circumstances of this case, the court held that plaintiff's Article V(2)(b) of the New York Convention defense failed. Therefore, the court held that the district court did not err in denying plaintiff's request that it refuse to enforce the arbitral award and dismissing her claims. View "Cvoro v. Carnival Corp." on Justia Law

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While in prison pending his surrender to Colombia, petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to block his extradition. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief, holding that, in accordance to the Department of State, both the United States and Colombia continue to recognize a previously nullified extradition treaty between the two countries as valid and in force. The court explained that, under the separation of powers established in and demanded by our Constitution, the Judicial Branch cannot second-guess that political judgment call or indulge whatever the court's own views on the matter may be. The court held that nothing in this case possibly requires the court to declare invalid Colombia's official acts, and thus the factual predicate for application of the act of state doctrine did not exist. View "Arias Leiva v. Warden" on Justia Law

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Four Colombian Departments filed an ex parte joint application under 28 U.S.C. 1782 to obtain discovery in aid of a foreign proceeding. Diageo intervened and appealed the district court's grant of the section 1782 application as to two of the departments. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the ex parte joint application and held that the district court correctly decided the so-called "receptivity" factor by looking to evidence introduced by both sides and by granting the application of two of the departments. View "Department of Caldas v. Diageo PLC" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, seeking return of father's child to Guatemala. The district court concluded that mother wrongfully retained her son in the United States and away from Guatemala, his place of habitual residence.The court affirmed and held that the district court correctly ruled that father was endowed the rights of custody under Article 5 of the Hague Convention pursuant to Article 253 of the Guatemalan Code. The court also held that the date consent was revoked constituted the date of wrongful retention. The court noted that the case for such a rule was even stronger where—as here—the custodial parent makes affirmative representations regarding the date of the child's return and then fails to act in accordance with them. View "Diaz Palencia v. Velasquez Perez" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's orders denying INPROTSA's petition to vacate and confirming an international arbitral award issued for Del Monte. The court had subject matter jurisdiction over the petition to vacate because Congress intended 9 U.S.C. 203 to be read consistently with section 205 as conferring subject-matter jurisdiction over actions or proceedings sufficiently related to agreements or awards subject to the Convention.The court held that the district court did not err by dismissing the petition to vacate, because INPROTSA did not assert a valid defense under the Convention in light of Industrial Risk Insurers v. M.A.N. Gutehoffnungshütte GmbH, 141 F.3d 1434, 1446 (11th Cir. 1998). Even if the district court were not bound by Industrial Risk, the petition to vacate would warrant denial, because the district court did not exceed its power by reasonably construing its own rules as barring substantive reconsideration of the merits of its damages award. Finally, the court held that the district court did in fact rule on the merits of INPROTSA's public policy defenses and held that enforcing the arbitral award did not offend public policy. View "Inversiones Y Procesadora Tropical Inprotsa, S.A. v. Del Monte International GMBH" on Justia Law

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Fresh Results, an American company, filed suit against ASF Holland, a Dutch company, in the Southern District of Florida, alleging that ASF Holland had falsified inspection reports and fraudulently deflated the price of the shipment of blueberries. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's grant of ASF Holland's motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Netherlands was a more convenient forum.The court held that the district court abused its discretion when it dismissed the complaint for forum non conveniens because it failed to consider all relevant public factors for each forum after determining that the private factors for the litigants were not in equipoise. Furthermore, the district court must correct two errors when it reweighs the private factors on remand. First, the district court must reconsider the factor of relative ease of access to sources of proof; and second, the district court was distracted by a red herring when it reasoned that the enforceability of a possible judgment favored dismissal because no treaty exists between the United States and the Netherlands that governs the reciprocal enforcement of judgments. View "Fresh Results, LLC v. ASF Holland, B.V." on Justia Law