Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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Pakistan International Airlines (“PIA”) failed to transport the body of N.B. to Pakistan for burial due to a miscommunication by employees of Swissport USA, PIA’s cargo loading agent. N.B.’s family members sued PIA and Swissport in New York state court under state law; PIA removed the action to the district court. Following cross-motions for summary judgment and an evidentiary hearing, the district court held that Plaintiffs’ claims are preempted by the Montreal Convention and dismissed the suit. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the Montreal Convention, which preempts state-law claims arising from delayed cargo, does not apply because human remains are not “cargo” for purposes of the Montreal Convention and because their particular claims are not for “delay.”   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that human remains are cargo for purposes of the Montreal Convention; and on the facts found by the district court, the claims arise from delay. The claims are therefore preempted by the Montreal Convention. The court further wrote that it was Plaintiffs who cut off PIA’s ability to perform under the terms of the waybill. That decision was understandable given the need to bury N.B. quickly, and it cannot be doubted that Plaintiffs found themselves in a hard situation. But their only recourse against PIA and Swissport was a claim under the Montreal Convention, a claim which they have consistently declined to assert. View "Badar v. Swissport USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this putative class action against more than twenty banks and brokers, alleging a conspiracy to manipulate two benchmark rates known as Yen-LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR. Plaintiff brought claims under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), and the Sherman Antitrust Act, and sought leave to assert claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). The district court dismissed the CEA and antitrust claims and denied leave to add the RICO claims. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred by holding that the CEA claims were impermissibly extraterritorial, that he lacked antitrust standing to assert a Sherman Act claim, and that he failed to allege proximate causation for his proposed RICO claims.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the conduct—i.e., that the bank defendants presented fraudulent submissions to an organization based in London that set a benchmark rate related to a foreign currency—occurred almost entirely overseas. Indeed, Plaintiff fails to allege any significant acts that took place in the United States. Plaintiff’s CEA claims are based predominantly on foreign conduct and are thus impermissibly extraterritorial. Further, the court wrote that the district court also correctly concluded that Plaintiff lacked antitrust standing because he would not be an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws. Lastly, the court agreed that Plaintiff failed to allege proximate causation for his RICO claims. View "Laydon v. Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A., et al." on Justia Law

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On appeal from the district court’s judgment declaring valid and enforceable against Appellants instruments governing a debt issue—notes, indenture, and pledge agreement. The district court granted Appellees’ motion for summary judgment, holding the notes, pledge agreement, and indenture valid and enforceable under New York law, and denied Appellants’ cross-motion, which argued the documents were void under the law of Venezuela, the jurisdiction of the issuer of the notes, and that the court should decline to enforce the notes on the basis of the act-of-state doctrine.   The Second Circuit deferred a decision and certified the following questions on the issue to the New York Court of Appeals: 1. Given PDVSA’s argument that the Governing Documents are invalid and unenforceable for lack of approval by the National Assembly, does New York Uniform Commercial Code section 8-110(a)(1) require that the validity of the Governing Documents be determined under the Law of Venezuela, “the local law of the issuer’s jurisdiction”? 2. Does any principle of New York common law require that a New York court apply Venezuelan substantive law rather than New York substantive law in determining the validity of the Governing Documents? 3. Are the Governing Documents valid under New York law, notwithstanding the PDV Entities’ arguments regarding Venezuelan law? View "PDVSA, et al. v. MUFG Union Bank, GLAS Americas" on Justia Law

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Appellant CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, C.A. (“Ferrominera”), appealed from the district court’s judgment confirming a foreign arbitral award and granting attorney’s fees and costs in favor of Petitioner Commodities & Minerals Enterprise Ltd. (“CME”). Ferrominera challenges the judgment on three grounds. First, it argues that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction because CME never served a summons on Ferrominera in connection with its motion to confirm the arbitral award. Second, Ferrominera contends that the district court erred in confirming the arbitral award based on purported lack of jurisdiction by the arbitral panel, issues with the scope of the award, and conflicts with United States public policy. Third, it argues that the district court abused its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees and costs in favor of CME.   The Second Circuit held that a party is not required to serve a summons in order to confirm a foreign arbitral award under the New York Convention. The court concluded that the district court properly enforced the arbitral award, but that it erred in awarding attorney’s fees and costs. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and vacated in part. The court wrote that CME complied with the service of notice requirements of the New York Convention and the FAA, and the district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over Ferrominera. Further, the court explained that Ferrominera has not borne its burden to show that the arbitration agreement is invalid where, as here, it has put forth no arguments whatsoever under the applicable law. View "Commodities & Minerals Enterprise Ltd. v. CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, C.A." on Justia Law

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Appellees hold a Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA) judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Based on that judgment, Appellees moved for a writ of execution against the assets of Kuwait Finance House (KFH) Malaysia in district court. The district court granted the writ before making any findings as to whether KFH Malaysia is an “agency or instrumentality” of Iran or whether the assets at issue are “blocked.” The primary issue on appeal is whether the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) permits those assets to be executed prior to such findings.   The Second Circuit denied Appellees’ motion to dismiss the appeal, denied KFH Malaysia’s petition for a writ of mandamus, vacated the order granting the writ of execution, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. The court explained to be entitled to attachment or execution under the TRIA a plaintiff must first establish defendant’s status as an agency or instrumentality. Here, these procedures were not followed. Article 52 permits parties to commence turnover proceedings to enforce money judgments. Below, that turnover proceeding commenced, but the district court granted the relief sought in that proceeding—a writ of execution—before it considered the antecedent issue of whether KFH Malaysia is an agency or instrumentality of Iran or whether the assets at issue are “blocked.” Without such findings, there has been no showing that KFH Malaysia is in possession of property. Accordingly, Appellees failed to meet the statutory and, and consequently, they failed to establish that they were entitled to a writ of execution. View "Christine Levinson et al. v. Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Berhad" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed from a district court judgment denying his petition for writ of habeas corpus in connection with an extradition proceeding. Petitioner argued that the text of the relevant extradition treaty and its legislative history indicate that whether extradition is time-barred is a question for the extradition court, which cannot issue a certificate of extraditability if extradition is so barred.   The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that the most natural reading of the relevant extradition treaty’s text is that the issue of timeliness is a matter for the relevant executive authority to decide in its discretion, not a question for the extradition court to decide as a matter of law. The court explained that based on the customary meaning of the word “may” and its particular use in Article 6 of the Treaty; the Senate Report’s Technical Analysis, the most authoritative item of legislative history cited by either party to this case; and the government’s consistent position as to the meaning of the provision, the court held that the plain meaning of the word “may” in that provision is discretionary, and not mandatory, in nature.   The court further explained that because Article 6‘s Lapse of Time provision is discretionary, the decision whether to deny extradition on the basis that the Requested State’s relevant statute of limitations would have barred prosecution had the relevant offense been committed within that State’s jurisdiction is a decision consigned to that State’s relevant executive authority, and is not a mandatory determination to be made by a federal court before issuing a certificate of extraditability. View "Yoo v. United States" on Justia Law

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Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, (“Esso”) the Nigerian subsidiary of an international oil corporation, asked federal courts in the United States to enforce an arbitral award of $1.8 billion, plus interest, against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) that Nigerian courts have partially set aside. Courts in Nigeria previously set aside the Award in part. Nonetheless, Esso seeks enforcement of the entire Award under the New York Convention. NNPC urges dismissal of Esso’s suit for lack of personal jurisdiction and on the basis of forum non-conveniens, and it opposes the petition for enforcement on the merits.   The Second Circuit determined affirmed the district court’s rulings because its factual determinations were meticulous and its legal conclusions sound. The court held that NNPC has standing on cross-appeal to challenge the denial of its motion to dismiss, even though the district court ruled in its favor on the merits. NNPC has such standing because our partial vacatur on the merits revives the action against it, and it may face an adverse ruling on remand. On considering NNPC’s challenges to the district court’s denial of its motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction and forum non-conveniens.   The court wrote that although the district court should have broadened its analysis under the Pemex standard, it ultimately agreed with its conclusion that U.S. courts owe the Nigerian judgments setting aside the Award comity.  The court concluded, however, that the district court went too far by refusing to enforce not only those parts of the Award that the Nigerian courts set aside but also those parts of the Award that remain viable under the Nigerian judgments. View "Esso Expl. and Prod. Nigeria Ltd. v. Nigerian Nat'l Petroleum Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Bainbridge Fund Ltd. is the beneficial owner of bonds issued by the Republic of Argentina. Argentina defaulted on these bonds back in 2001, but Bainbridge didn’t sue to recover them until 2016. The district court dismissed Bainbridge’s claims as untimely under New York’s six-year statute of limitations for contract actions and the Second Circuit’s nonprecedential decisions. Bainbridge appealed, asking the Second Circuit to reconsider those decisions. Specifically, Bainbridge argues that (1) the twenty-year statute of limitations for recovery on certain bonds under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 34 Section 211(a) applies to its claims against Argentina; and (2) even if the six-year limitations period for contract actions applies, it was tolled under N.Y. Gen. Oblig Law Section 17-101 because Argentina “acknowledged” this debt when it publicly listed the bonds in its quarterly financial statements (the “Quarterly Reports”).   The Second Circuit rejected Plaintiff’s arguments. First, the twenty-year statute of limitations does not apply to claims on Argentine bonds because a foreign sovereign is not a “person” under N.Y. C.P.L.R. Section 211(a). Second, tolling under N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law Section 17-101 is inapplicable because the Quarterly Reports did not “acknowledge” the debt at issue in a way that reflected an intention to pay or seek to influence the bondholders’ behavior. To the contrary, Argentina repeatedly stated that the bonds “may remain in default indefinitely.” Bainbridge’s claims are thus time-barred. View "Bainbridge Fund Ltd. v. The Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an action against the International Criminal Police Organization (“Interpol”), charging negligent infliction of emotional distress and violation of his right to due process of law under the New York State Constitution after Interpol refused to delete a so-called “red notice” identifying Plaintiff as a convicted criminal in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”).   The district court granted Interpol’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that Interpol is a protected organization under the International Organizations Immunities Act (“IOIA”), 22 U.S.C. Sections 288-288l, and thus enjoys the same immunity from suit normally enjoyed by foreign sovereigns.   The Second Circuit affirmed concluding that the term “public international organizations” as used in 22 U.S.C. Section 288 includes any international organization that is composed of governments as its members, regardless of whether it has been formed by international treaty. Further, the court found that Interpol qualifies as a “public international organization” for the purposes of 22 U.S.C. Section 288 because its members are official government actors whose involvement is subject to control by participating nations. Next, the Headquarters Agreement between Interpol and the Government of France does not constitute an immunity waiver that would permit the present suit in a United States district court. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Plaintiff’s request for jurisdictional discovery prior to dismissal. View "El Omari v. The International Criminal Police Organization" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Aenergy, S.A., and Combined Cycle Power Plant Soyo, S.A. (together, “AE”), sued various Angolan Government entities (together, “Angola”), plus General Electric Co. and related entities (together, “GE”). AE alleges that Angola wrongfully cancelled AE’s Angolan power plant contracts and seized its related property in violation of state and international law and that GE interfered with its contracts and prospective business relations.The court found that the standard principles of forum non conveniens applies to AE’s lawsuit brought pursuant to exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”), 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1605. The court reasoned that forum non conveniens does not require a case-by-case consideration of comity, and therefore is consistent with the FSIA’s purpose in establishing a “comprehensive set of legal standards.”The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing AE’s complaint on forum non conveniens grounds. AE argues that the district court erred in applying the three-step forum non conveniens analysis. The court held that the district court reasonably found that AE’s forum choice was entitled to minimal deference; that Angola is an adequate alternative forum; and that the public and private Gilbert factors favor Angola. Thus the court affirmed the district court’s orders. View "Aenergy, S.A. v. Republic of Angola" on Justia Law