Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Abu Nahl v. Abou Jaoude
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
In re: Application and Petition of Hanwei Guo
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
Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran
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
Gleizer v. Republic of Argentina
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
Barnet v. Ministry of Culture & Sports of the Hellenic Republic
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
Pablo Star Ltd. v. The Welsh Government
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
Sampedro v. Silver Point Capital, L.P.
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
Bugliotti v. Republic of Argentina
Plaintiffs filed suit seeking to recover unpaid principal amounts of defaulted Argentine sovereign debt. Plaintiffs are subscribers to the Republic of Argentina's 1994 sovereign debt offering who enrolled their bonds in a governmental tax‐credit program just prior to Argentina's 2001 default on the bonds. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's dismissal of their complaint on multiple alternative grounds.The Second Circuit held that the relevant question is not whether plaintiffs "own" the bonds but whether they may sue to enforce them. Moreover, the court held that, although the court has discretion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 to decide the relevant question of Argentine law in the first instance, the court also has discretion to remand so that the district court — which is better situated in these circumstances to implement Rule 44.1's flexible procedures for determining foreign law — may do so. Furthermore, the court did not think that the district court's reliance on the doctrine of adjudicative international comity as an alternative ground for dismissal was appropriate in these circumstances. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' damages claim. However, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claim for injunctive relief. View "Bugliotti v. Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law
Tagger v. Strauss Group Ltd.
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff filed suit against Strauss for various common law contract and tort claims, alleging that Strauss falsely brought legal action against him in Israel which caused him to be prohibited from leaving Israel.The court held that 28 U.S.C. 1332(a)(2) does not confer diversity jurisdiction where a permanent resident alien sues a non‐resident alien, and that the 1951 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the United States and Israel does not otherwise confer federal jurisdiction in this lawsuit. The court concluded that plaintiff, a citizen of Israel who lives in Brooklyn as a lawful permanent resident, is an alien for the purpose of diversity jurisdiction and Strauss is an Israeli corporation with headquarters in Israel. View "Tagger v. Strauss Group Ltd." on Justia Law
Vera v. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A.
BBVA appealed the district court's judgment entered following the Second Circuit's mandate in Vera v. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A., 729 Fed. App'x 106 (2d Cir. 2018). The judgment rendered final several of its previous orders requiring BBVA to turn over funds to petitioners from a blocked electronic fund transfer originated by the Cuban Import‐Export Corporation, an instrumentality of the Republic of Cuba. The turnover orders rested on the district court's grant of full faith and credit to default judgments that petitioners secured against Cuba in the Florida state courts. The Florida state courts had jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).The court reversed the judgment, vacated the turnover orders, and remanded with instructions, holding that the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the enforcement proceeding under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). In this case, petitioners failed to show under 28 U.S.C. 1605A either that (1) Cuba was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism "as a result" of the pre‐1982 acts underlying their judgments or that (2) the acts underlying their judgments occurred after 1982. Therefore, without either showing, the state-sponsored terrorism exception did not permit the district court to exercise jurisdiction over Cuba's assets under section 201(a) of TRIA. View "Vera v. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A." on Justia Law