Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Yancheng Shanda Yuanfeng Equity Investment Partnership v. Wan
The Partnership filed a contract claim in a Chinese court against Wan, his company, and his brother. The Chinese court entered a default judgment against Wan after he failed to appear. A year later, the Partnership filed a complaint in the Central District of Illinois, seeking enforcement of the Chinese judgment under the Illinois foreign judgment recognition law, predicating subject matter jurisdiction on diversity of citizenship. The district court, determining that the Chinese judgment was enforceable under Illinois law, granted the Partnership summary judgment.The Seventh Circuit vacated, finding the factual predicates for the district court’s jurisdiction not established firmly in the existing record. The Partnership, which had the burden on the issue, failed to present “competent proof” of its citizenship; it did not present any evidence establishing its citizenship or the citizenship of its several partners. The Partnership submitted a declaration by its employee who stated simply that it “is and was domiciled in Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, People’s Republic of China.” However, a partnership does not have a “domicile” for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. Rather, to establish subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship, the citizenship of each partner must be established. There is no evidence to support a finding of complete diversity. View "Yancheng Shanda Yuanfeng Equity Investment Partnership v. Wan" on Justia Law
Sheehan v. Breccia Unlimited Co.
Sheehan emigrated from Ireland decades ago and currently lives in Winfield, Illinois. Sheehan obtained loans from an Irish bank to buy interests in an Irish medical company (Blackrock), and to purchase property located in Ballyheigue, Sheehan defaulted on both loans. Breccia, an Irish entity, acquired the loans and took steps to foreclose on the underlying collateral. Sheehan sued but an Irish court authorized Breccia to enforce its security interest in the Blackrock Shares and the Ballyheigue property. Breccia registered the Blackrock Shares in its name and appointed a receiver, Murran, to take possession of the Ballyheigue property. Sheehan filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, triggering an automatic stay, 11 U.S.C. 362 (a)(3). Sheehan notified the Irish receiver, Murran, and Breccia of the automatic stay. Breccia continued, through Murran, to take the necessary steps toward selling the collateral, entering into a contract with IADC (another Irish company) to sell the Blackrock Shares.The bankruptcy court dismissed Sheehan's subsequent adversary complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction over the Irish defendants, as none of them conducted any activity related to the adversary claims in the U.S.; the only link between the defendants and the forum was the fact that Sheehan lived in Illinois. The email notice Sheehan provided the defendants was not sufficient process under the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad. The district court and Seventh Circuit affirmed. None of the defendants had minimum contacts with the United States. View "Sheehan v. Breccia Unlimited Co." on Justia Law
NBA Properties, Inc. v. HANWJH
NBA Properties owns the trademarks of the NBA and NBA teams. In 2020, a Properties investigator accessed HANWJH’s online Amazon store and purchased an item, designating an address in Illinois as the delivery destination. The product was delivered to the Illinois address. Properties sued, alleging trademark infringement and counterfeiting, 15 U.S.C. 1114 and false designation of origin, section 1125(a). Properties obtained a TRO and a temporary asset restraint on HANWJH’s bank account, then moved for default; despite having been served, HANWJH had not answered or otherwise defended the suit. HANWJH moved to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over it because it did not expressly aim any conduct at Illinois. HANWJH maintained that it had never sold any other product to any consumer in Illinois nor had it any “offices, employees,” “real or personal property,” “bank accounts,” or any other commercial dealings with Illinois.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion to dismiss and the entry of judgment in favor of Properties. HANWJH shipped a product to Illinois after it structured its sales activity in such a manner as to invite orders from Illinois and developed the capacity to fill them. HANWJH’s listing of its product on Amazon.com and its sale of the product to counsel are related sufficiently to the harm of likelihood of confusion. Illinois has an interest in protecting its consumers from purchasing fraudulent merchandise. HANWJH alleges no unusual burden in defending the suit in Illinois. View "NBA Properties, Inc. v. HANWJH" on Justia Law
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