Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for international parental kidnapping and passport fraud. After determining that defendant's vagueness challenge fails insofar as it is premised on deficient notice, the court held that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to him. In this case, the IPKCA is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to someone who retains children abroad without first abducting them, when the children had not been in the United States for several years prior to the unlawful retention.The court also held that the district court properly applied two Sentencing Guidelines enhancements for substantial interference with the administration of justice and for fraudulent use of a United States passport. View "United States v. Houtar" on Justia Law

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Respondents appeal the district court's grant of an application for discovery in aid of a foreign proceeding under 28 U.S.C. 1782 brought by petitioner. The application relates to complex litigation stemming from the sinking of an oil tanker captained by petitioner off the coast of Spain. Petitioner cross-appeals, arguing that the district court should have refrained from entering final judgment and instead maintained the case on its active docket to facilitate further uses of the discovery materials.The Second Circuit concluded that petitioner's cross-appeal, unlike respondents' appeal, no longer presents a live case or controversy and is therefore moot. The court also concluded that the district court erred by failing to conduct a choice-of-law analysis with respect to applicable privileges and in analyzing whether one of the proceedings cited by petitioner as a basis for his application was within reasonable contemplation. Therefore, the court dismissed the cross-appeal and vacated the district court's judgment. The court remanded for further proceedings and ordered respondents to refrain from destroying or altering any records, materials, or documents that may reasonably be considered to be subject to discovery pursuant to the section 1782 applications at issue in this case until July 30, 2021, unless otherwise directed by an order of a United States court. View "Mangouras v. Boggs" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action on behalf of members and descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama indigenous peoples against the Federal Republic of Germany, seeking damages for the enslavement and genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama peoples in what is now Namibia, as well as for property they alleged Germany expropriated from the land and peoples.The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Germany is a foreign sovereign; the only path for the exercise of jurisdiction is if a FISA exception applies. FSIA’s takings exception, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3), provides that a foreign state is not immune from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts in cases "in which rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue and that property or any property exchanged for such property is present in the United States in connection with a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state; or that property or any property exchanged for such property is owned or operated by an agency or instrumentality of the foreign state and that agency or instrumentality is engaged in commercial activity in the United States.” The plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficient to trace the proceeds from property expropriated more than a century ago to present‐day property owned by Germany in New York. View "Rukoro v. Federal Republic of Germany" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit as shareholders on behalf of Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB), alleging that defendants used LCB to facilitate a money-laundering scheme benefiting Hezbollah. Plaintiffs contend that defendants' conduct violated an actionable norm of international law that confers a cause of action on them over which the federal courts have jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The district court held that the prohibition against financing terrorism is a universal, specific, and obligatory norm of international law, and allowed plaintiffs to proceed with their suit.The Second Circuit reversed and held that plaintiffs' effort to amend their complaint is futile, because – even if "financing terrorism" violates a universal, specific, and obligatory norm of international law – their cause of action is based on harm that falls outside the scope of any such norm. In this case, plaintiffs' economic harm is disconnected from the risks that would bring the financing of terrorism within the purview of international law, and the ATS does not confer federal jurisdiction over the alleged violations of corporate law principles that ground plaintiffs' claim. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Abu Nahl v. Abou Jaoude" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782(a), seeking discovery from four investment banks related to their work as underwriters in the Tencent Music IPO. Petitioner alleged that he intended to use the documents in his pending CIETAC arbitration against the Ocean Entities and its founder.28 U.S.C. 1782(a) authorizes federal courts to compel the production of materials "for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal" upon "the application of any interested person." In In National Broadcasting Co. v. Bear Stearns & Co., 165 F.3d 184 (2d Cir. 1999) ("NBC"), the court held that the phrase "foreign or international tribunal" does not encompass "arbitral bod[ies] established by private parties."The court held that nothing in the Supreme Court's decision in Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 542 U.S. 241 (2004), alters its prior conclusion in NBC that section 1782(a) does not extend to private international commercial arbitrations. Furthermore, the arbitration at issue here is a non-covered, private, international commercial arbitration. View "In re: Application and Petition of Hanwei Guo" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit first addressed this matter by affirming in part, vacating in part, and remanding. Defendants then filed petitions for rehearing, which the court denied, and Defendant Bank Markazi filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court. The Solicitor General ultimately recommended that the petitions for writs of certiorari be denied because both Houses of Congress had passed separate bills that could substantially affect the proper disposition of the case. Congress then enacted the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 and the Supreme Court subsequently granted the petitions for certiorari, vacated the prior decision in Peterson II, and remanded to the Second Circuit.The Second Circuit readopted that portion of its now vacated decision in Part B and Part C.1 of the "Discussion" section of Peterson II as the decision of this court. In regard to subpart C.2, the court reinstated only its judgment that the district court prematurely dismissed the amended complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and remanded for the district court to reconsider that question. However, the court did not reinstate its analysis as to whether the common law and Koehler provide the district court with jurisdiction over the extraterritorial asset, directing the district court to address these issues. Finally, the court respectfully directed the Clerk of this Court to return the matter to this panel for further review and adjudication. View "Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

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Movant filed suit on behalf of plaintiffs, seeking to recover money owed on defaulted Argentina bonds. In 2006, plaintiffs received a judgment in their favor, which went unpaid until plaintiffs settled their claims with Argentina in 2016, without movant's involvement. Movant then moved to enforce his attorney's lien on the settlement proceeds under New York Judiciary Law 475, which the district court denied.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's order, holding that the district court had jurisdiction over movant's claim against Argentina under the commercial activity exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act. In this case, Argentina's settlement with plaintiffs constitutes an act outside the territory of the United States connected with a commercial activity of Argentina elsewhere, and that act caused direct effect in the United States because it ended in long-running litigation in New York. The court also held that movant's lien on his clients' cause of action attached to the settlement proceeds even though he was not involved in the settlement. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Gleizer v. Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's decision concluding that it had subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) over plaintiffs' suit seeking declaratory relief against Greece. This action stemmed from a dispute between the parties over the ownership of an ancient Greek artifact of a bronze horse figurine.The court held that Greece's claim of ownership over the figurine was not in connection with any commercial activity by Greece outside of the United States. Therefore, the court held that the FSIA does not authorize jurisdiction over this dispute. The court remanded with instructions to dismiss the action. View "Barnet v. Ministry of Culture & Sports of the Hellenic Republic" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the Welsh Government's motion to dismiss claims of copyright infringement brought by Pablo Star over two photographs of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his wife, Caitlin Macnamara, on the ground of sovereign immunity. The Welsh Government argued that the commercial-activity exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not apply to its conduct promoting Welsh culture and tourism in New York.The court held, however, that the Welsh Government engaged in commercial activity in publicizing Wales-themed events in New York, and that the Welsh Government's activity had substantial contact with the United States. Therefore, Pablo Star's lawsuit falls within an exception to the immunity recognized in the FSIA. View "Pablo Star Ltd. v. The Welsh Government" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of respondents' motion to compel reciprocal discovery under 28 U.S.C. 1782. Respondents contend that they should have been awarded reciprocal discovery given their involvement and interest not only in the foreign proceeding that formed the basis of movant's section 1782 discovery request but also in another foreign proceeding.In light of the district court's broad discretion under section 1782, the court held that a district court need not consider procedural parity with respect to all possible foreign proceedings when determining whether to grant reciprocal discovery. Therefore, the court declined to read into section 1782 the obligation urged by respondents to consider all pending litigation. View "Sampedro v. Silver Point Capital, L.P." on Justia Law