Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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
Broidy Capital Management LLC v. Benomar
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss, based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, plaintiffs' action stemming from a Qatari hacking scheme. The court agreed with the district court's holding that defendant had diplomatic immunity from suit under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. In this case, plaintiff failed to meet their burden of proof in establishing that the commercial activity exception to diplomatic immunity applied by presenting evidence to support their allegations that defendant engaged in such activity. The court also held that plaintiffs failed to request jurisdictional discovery as directed by the district court, and amendment would be futile because plaintiffs' proposed amended complaint did not cure the original complaint's jurisdictional deficiencies. View "Broidy Capital Management LLC v. Benomar" on Justia Law
Prime International Trading Ltd. v. BP PLC
The alleged misconduct tied to the trading of crude oil extracted from Europe's North Sea constitutes an impermissibly extraterritorial application of the Commodity Exchange Act. Plaintiffs, individuals and entities who traded futures and derivatives contracts involving North Sea oil, appealed the district court's dismissal of their claims alleging that defendants, entities involved in various aspects of the production of Brent crude, conspired to manipulate, and did in fact manipulate, the market for physical Brent crude and Brent Futures by executing fraudulent bids, offers, and transactions in the underlying physical Brent crude market over the course of the Class Period. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims under the Act, holding that the presumption of extraterritoriality has not been displaced in this case, and plaintiffs have not pleaded a domestic application of the Act by merely alleging a winding chain of foreign, intervening events connected to the purchase of Brent Futures. The court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of all other defendants and all other claims in a separately filed summary order. View "Prime International Trading Ltd. v. BP PLC" on Justia Law
Havlish v. 650 Fifth Avenue Co.
The Second Circuit held that the district court violated the mandate the court issued in a previous decision instructing it not to send the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) claims to trial, and that the district court violated the law of the case by finding that 650 Fifth Avenue Company is a foreign state under the FSIA. Without reaching the merits of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) claims, the court held that the district court abused its discretion by precluding two of defendants’ witnesses from testifying at trial. Finally, the court held that TRIA section 201 litigants lack the right to a jury trial in actions against a state sponsor of terrorism, including its agencies or instrumentalities. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for a new trial on section 201 claims. View "Havlish v. 650 Fifth Avenue Co." on Justia Law
United States v. Assa Co. Ltd.
At issue in this civil forfeiture appeal was whether the district court erred by exercising subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign state's property or abused its discretion by rejecting defendants' statute‐of‐limitations defense sua sponte. The Second Circuit held that the district court had jurisdiction because the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not foreclose in rem civil‐forfeiture suits against a foreign state's property. In this case, however, the district court abused its discretion by sua sponte resolving the statute‐of‐limitations issue without providing defendants notice or an opportunity to defend themselves. Finally, an accompanying summary order considered and rejected defendants' additional challenges. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Assa Co. Ltd." on Justia Law
Kirschenbaum v. Assa Corp.
The Second Circuit held that Assa must turn over substantial real and financial property interests to hundreds of terrorism victims holding default judgments against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The court held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) because Assa is an alter ego of Iran. The court also held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) because Assa is both an alter ego and agency or instrumentality of Iran and its property constituted blocked assets. Therefore, the court held that the district court correctly held that Assa’s property is subject to attachment and execution under section 201 of the TRIA. View "Kirschenbaum v. Assa Corp." on Justia Law
United States v. Ng Lap Seng
The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of paying and conspiring to pay bribes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371, 666, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and gratuities to United Nations officials and of related money laundering. Defendant's charges stemmed from his sustained effort to bribe two U.N. officials to designate one of his properties as the permanent site of an annual U.N. convention. The court held that the word "organization" as used in section 666, and defined by 1 U.S.C. 1 and 18 U.S.C. 18, applies to all non‐government legal persons, including public international organizations such as the U.N. The court also held that the "official act" quid pro quo for bribery as proscribed by 18 U.S.C. 201(b)(1), defined by id. section 201(a)(3), and explained in McDonnell v. United States, does not delimit bribery as proscribed by section 666 and the FCPA. Thus, the district court did not err in failing to charge the McDonnell standard for the FCPA crimes of conviction. Insofar as the district court nevertheless charged an "official act" quid pro quo for the section 666 crimes, that error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant, and the jury did not misconstrue the "corruptly" element of section 666 and the FCPA and the "obtaining or retaining business" element of the FCPA. View "United States v. Ng Lap Seng" on Justia Law
Siegel v. HSBC North America Holdings, Inc.
Plaintiffs, victims or representatives of victims in terrorist attacks in Amman, Jordan, filed suit alleging that defendants aided and abetted the attackers, in violation of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act by providing banking services to Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabiaʹs largest commercial bank, which was thought by some to have ties to al‐Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist organization responsible for the November 9 attacks. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The court held that plaintiffs' civil aiding and abetting claim failed because plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that HSBC was generally aware of its role as part of an overall illegal or tortious activity at the time that it provided the assistance, and that HSBC knowingly and substantially assisted the principal violation. View "Siegel v. HSBC North America Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Force v. Facebook, Inc.
Plaintiffs, U.S. citizens of Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, appealed the district court's dismissal of their federal civil antiterrorism and Israeli law claims against Facebook, alleging that Facebook unlawfully assisted Hamas in the attacks. Plaintiff argued that Hamas used Facebook to post content that encouraged terrorist attacks in Israel during the time period of the attacks. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment as to the federal claims, holding that 42 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) bars civil liability claims that treat a provider or user of an interactive computer service as a publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. In this case, plaintiffs' claims fell within Facebook's status as the publisher of information within the meaning of the statute, and Facebook did not develop the content of the postings at issue. Therefore, section 230(c)(1) applied to Facebook's alleged conduct in this case. The court also held that applying section 230(c)(1) to plaintiffs' claims would not impair the enforcement of a federal criminal statute; the Anti-Terrorism Act's civil remedies provision, 18 U.S.C. 2333, did not implicitly narrow or repeal section 230(c)(1); and applying section 230(c)(1) to plaintiffs' claims would not be impermissibly extraterritorial. Finally, in regard to the foreign law claims, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction sua sponte to cure jurisdictional defects and therefore dismissed these claims. View "Force v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law