Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Instituto Mexicano del Seguro v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc.
In 2008-2013, IMSS, the agency of the Mexican government tasked with purchasing medical products for Mexican citizens, purchased medical products from Zimmer, a medical device company, headquartered in Indiana and incorporated in Delaware. Zimmer distributes its products in Mexico through an indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary. IMSS claims Zimmer orchestrated an international bribery scheme from its Indiana headquarters to facilitate the sale of unregistered medical products and paid around $1 million in bribes to its “Mexican agents” who passed bribes to Mexican government officials.IMSS sued in the Northern District of Indiana, alleging two causes of action under Mexican law (breach of contract and violating the Law of Acquisitions, Leases and Services of the Public Sector) and fraud. for which the relief is the same under U.S. or Mexican law. The district court disagreed with IMSS’s interpretation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and dismissed based on forum non conveniens. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Two of IMSS’s claims arise under Mexican law and the remedy for the third is identical in either country. There is no risk IMSS will be deprived of a remedy by litigating in Mexican courts. The court noted the hardship of transporting witnesses from Mexico to the U.S. and that UNCAC is expressly non-self-executing. View "Instituto Mexicano del Seguro v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Boim v. American Muslims for Palestine
In 1996, Boim, age 17, was shot and killed by Hamas terrorists while studying abroad in Israel. His parents sued several American nonprofit organizations for their role in funding Hamas and secured a $156 million judgment under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. 2333(a). Those organizations then shut down, leaving the Boims mostly unable to collect. In 2017, they filed a new lawsuit against two different American entities and three individuals, alleging that these new defendants are alter egos of the now-defunct nonprofit organizations, liable for the remainder of the $156 million judgment. The district court allowed limited jurisdictional discovery, decided the new entities and individuals were not alter egos of the defunct nonprofits, and then dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The district court’s finding on the alter ego question constituted a merits determination that went beyond a proper jurisdictional inquiry. Because the Boims’ new lawsuit arises under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the district court possessed federal jurisdiction and should have allowed the case to proceed on the merits, consistent with the ordinary course of civil litigation. View "Boim v. American Muslims for Palestine" on Justia Law
Scalin v. Societe Nationale SNCF SA
Plaintiffs, descendants of Jews rounded up in France after it signed an armistice with Germany in 1940, alleged that persons being sent to death camps were loaded on trains operated by the French national railroad, SNCF. Their belongings were stolen by railroad workers and given to the Nazis. They sought compensation for those thefts. They cited the expropriation exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which applies when the allegations concern “rights in property taken in violation of international law,” 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3).The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Plaintiffs must seek their remedy under a French administrative-claims system for compensating victims of the Nazi occupation and the Vichy regime. The court cited “comity-based abstention, calling this a “triple-foreign suit”: plaintiffs allege that nationals of a country other than the U.S. were injured by a foreign entity in a foreign nation. Although the plaintiffs claim that one of them is a U.S. citizen, they are heirs of the victims. The fact that a foreign national’s claim has been transferred to a U.S. citizen does not make it less a foreign claim. The proper location of a suit depends on the original acts, not on the plaintiff’s current residence. Their complaint mentions conversion and unjust enrichment but does not identify a source of law, and federal common law, state law, and section 1350 all fall short in a triple-foreign suit. View "Scalin v. Societe Nationale SNCF SA" on Justia Law
Okere v. United States
The Okeres, U.S. citizens, are trying to get their eight-year-old son from Nigeria to the United States. They applied for a “certificate of identity,” which validates the identity of a person living abroad who purports to be a U.S. citizen but has not presented enough evidence of citizenship to obtain a passport, 8 U.S.C. 1503(b). They sued, asserting that, after their son finally received a travel document from the State Department, he has been prevented from boarding a flight to the U.S. because the Consulate General refused to verify the certificate’s authenticity with the airlines with which they had booked flights for their son.The district court dismissed the Okeres’ complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Okeres identified no legal authority compelling the Consulate General to verify the authenticity of the certificate to the airlines. None of the federal statutes the Okeres invoked confers jurisdiction. Nor do any of the provisions identified in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual create individual rights or impose enforceable duties on a Consulate General when issuing a certificate of identity. The court stated that its decision was “most unsatisfying, for it is impossible to read the parties’ briefs without concluding that something else is going on here.” View "Okere v. United States" on Justia Law
Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC
An aircraft engine caught fire during testing in South Carolina. Rolls-Royce had manufactured and sold the engine to Boeing for incorporation into a 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Boeing demanded compensation from Rolls-Royce. In 2017, the companies settled for $12 million. Rolls-Royce then sought indemnification from Servotronics, the manufacturer of a valve. Under a long-term agreement between Rolls-Royce and Servotronics, any dispute not resolved through negotiation or mediation must be submitted to binding arbitration in England, under the rules of the Chartered Institute of Arbiters (CIArb). Rolls-Royce initiated arbitration with the CIArb. Servotronics filed an ex parte application in the Northern District of Illinois, seeking a subpoena compelling Boeing to produce documents for use in the London arbitration. The subpoena was issued, then quashed.The Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of Rolls-Royce. A district court may order a person within the district to give testimony or produce documents “for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal,” 28 U.S.C. 1782(a). Section 1782(a) does not authorize the district court to compel discovery for use in a private foreign arbitration. View "Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC" on Justia Law
Yeatts v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc.
Biomet employed Yeatts in a role that included implementing compliance policies. In 2008, Biomet terminated its Brazilian distributor Prosintese, run by Galindo, after learning that Galindo had bribed healthcare providers, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 78dd-1. Prosintese still owned Brazilian registrations for Biomet’s products. Biomet could not quickly obtain new registrations, and, in 2009, agreed to cooperate with Prosintese and Galindo “to implement the new Biomet distributors.” A distributor that replaced Prosintese hired Galindo as a consultant. Yeatts communicated with Galindo in that new role. Biomet entered into a 2012 Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the Department of Justice, which required that Biomet engage an independent corporate compliance monitor. In 2013, Biomet received an anonymous whistleblower tip that Biomet continued to work with Galindo. Biomet informed the DOJ and the Monitor, terminated Yeatts, and included Yeatts on a Restricted Parties List. Biomet entered a second DOJ agreement that references Yeatts’s interactions with Galindo and paid a criminal penalty of $17.4 million. In Yeatts's defamation suit, the court granted Biomet summary judgment because Biomet’s statement that Yeatts posed a compliance risk was an opinion that could not be proven false and presented no defamatory imputation. Yeatts could not establish that Biomet made the statement with malice, so Biomet was protected by the qualified privilege of common interest and the public interest privilege. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, agreeing that inclusion of Yeatts on the Restricted Parties List conveyed no defamatory imputation of objectively verifiable or testable fact. View "Yeatts v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Venckiene v. United States
After a hearing under 18 U.S.C. 3184, a magistrate certified Venckiene as extraditable to Lithuania for the prosecution of alleged offenses arising from a custody battle over Venckiene’s niece. The Secretary of State granted the extradition. Venckiene obtained a temporary stay and sought habeas corpus relief, claiming that the magistrate failed to apply the political offense exception in the extradition treaty and erred in finding probable cause that she was guilty of the offenses. Venckiene and others alleged political and judicial corruption in connection with her niece’s allegations of sexual abuse and claimed that the allegations evolved into protests that culminated in the formation of a new political party and the suspicious deaths of four people, including Venckiene's brother. Venckiene claimed that extradition violated her due process rights and that she might be subject to “particularly atrocious procedures or punishments” in Lithuania. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. While there is a political dimension to Venckiene's actions, they do not qualify as relative political offenses, which require a finding of “violent political disturbance or uprising.” Venckiene’s actions were not objectively those of someone furthering a political agenda; a video and transcript support the charges that Venckiene attempted to prevent law enforcement from entering her home and seizing her niece to execute a court order. Without specific evidence of atrocious conditions that Venckiene is likely to experience if extradited, blocking this extradition after the executive has approved it would go beyond the role of the court in the extradition process. View "Venckiene v. United States" on Justia Law
Noeller v. Wojdylo
Carrillo was involved in an extramarital relationship with Noeller. Carrillo’s family reported that Noeller called Carrillo, accused her of seeing someone else, and threatened her life; Noeller later came to her mother’s Mexico City house, where he shot and killed her. Noeller maintains that he ended their relationship after finding out about her family’s affiliation with the Los Pepes gang and Zetas drug cartel. He says that after the murder, he received warnings that Carrillo’s mother had hired hitmen to kill him. Noeller fled for the U.S. with his wife and children, who are U.S. citizens. Noeller's family members provided affidavits describing incidents after he left, in which gang members came to their homes looking for Noeller, threatened them, and beat them. During removal proceedings, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i), Noeller sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. Immigration judges twice denied his applications. Noeller’s BIA appeal was pending when Mexico submitted its extradition request. Noeller challenged the warrant issued in Mexico by an “Amparo proceeding,” which is “similar to habeas corpus ... to review and annul unconstitutional judicial decisions.” Noeller claims that the court in Mexico suspended the warrant. Mexico’s government contends that the original arrest warrant remains enforceable. The district court granted extradition. Noeller sought habeas corpus relief. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of relief. Mexico submitted a valid request for extradition, which U.S. courts must honor. Noeller’s challenges to that request are “beyond the narrow role for courts in the extradition process.” View "Noeller v. Wojdylo" on Justia Law
Kemper v. Deutsche Bank AG
In 2009, U.S. Army Specialist Schaefer was killed by a roadside bomb while serving a tour of duty in Iraq. Those directly responsible for such attacks are often unidentifiable or beyond the reach of a court’s personal jurisdiction. Secondary actors, such as the organizations that fund the terrorists, are often amorphous. Despite Congress’s effort to make state sponsors of terrorism accountable in U.S. courts (28 U.S.C. 1605A) any resulting judgment may be uncollectible. Spc. Schaefer’s mother claimed that the bomb that killed her son was a signature Iranian weapon that traveled from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to Hezbollah to Iraqi militias, who then placed it in the ground and that Deutsche Bank, a German entity with U.S. affiliates, is responsible for her son’s death under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. 2333. She argued that the Bank joined an Iranian conspiracy to commit acts of terror when it instituted procedures to evade U.S. sanctions and facilitate Iranian banking transactions. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of her suit, which “failed to plead facts that plausibly indicated that Deutsche Bank’s actions caused her son’s death.” The Bank’s conduct was not “violent” or “dangerous to human life” as the ATA requires, nor did it display the terroristic intent. To the extent Deutsche Bank joined any conspiracy, it joined only a conspiracy to avoid sanctions, distinct from any of Iran’s terrorism-related goals. View "Kemper v. Deutsche Bank AG" on Justia Law
Fischer v. Magyar Allamvasutak Zrt.
In 2010, Hungarian survivors of the Holocaust filed a purported class action in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that in 1944 the Hungarian national railway transported Fischer and up to 500,000 other Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the plaintiffs had neither exhausted remedies that may be available in Hungary nor established that the national railway is engaged in commercial activity in the U.S., as necessary to support the exercise of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) expropriation exception. In 2016, Kellner, a member of the putative class, filed her own complaint against the Hungarian national railway in Budapest’s Capital Regional Court, which dismissed the case. In 2017, the district court received a “Motion to Reinstate” based on “class member” Kellner’s efforts to exhaust remedies in Hungary. The district court rejected the motion: [A]lthough there was a proposed class in this case and Kellner may have been a putative class member, … No class was certified …. Kellner ... is not a named party … and lacks any standing.” The Seventh Circuit held that it lacked authority to consider an appeal from a party not subject to the order sought to be challenged. View "Fischer v. Magyar Allamvasutak Zrt." on Justia Law