Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
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
Armada (Singapore) PTE Ltd. v. Amcol International Corp.
Plaintiff, a Singaporean shipping company, entered into shipping contracts with an Indian mining company. The Indian company breached those contracts. Plaintiff believes that American businesses that were the largest stockholders in the Indian company engaged in racketeering activity to divest the Indian company of assets to thwart its attempts to recover damages for the breach. Plaintiff filed suit under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c). While the case was pending, the Supreme Court decided RJR Nabisco v. European Community, holding that “[a] private RICO plaintiff … must allege and prove a domestic injury to its business or property.” The district court granted the American defendants judgment on the RICO claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff’s claimed injury—harm to its ability to collect on its judgment and other claims—was economic; economic injuries are felt at a corporation’s principal place of business, and Plaintiff’s principal place of business is in Singapore. The court noted that the district court allowed a maritime fraudulent transfer claim to go forward. View "Armada (Singapore) PTE Ltd. v. Amcol International Corp." on Justia Law
Vexol S.A. de C.V. v. Berry Plastics Corp.
Vexol, a Mexican company that provides plastic and shrink wrap to end users in Mexico, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana against Berry Plastics, a Delaware corporation that allegedly does business in Mexico through its subsidiary, Pliant, Vexol alleged that Pliant sold shrink wrap to Vexol and that Vexol’s customers complained about the quality and returned their purchases to Vexol. Vexol sought to return the unsatisfactory product to Pliant, which would not issue a refund, but claimed that Vexol owed it money pursuant to a fabricated “pagare,” the Mexican equivalent of a promissory note. Pliant allegedly caused another Mexican entity, Aspen, to enforce the pagare in the Mexican Mercantile Court. Vexol alleged that Pliant also filed a criminal complaint against Vexol for fraud. Vexol claimed violation of Indiana tort law and Mexico’s Federal Civil Code. Citing choice‐of‐law principles, the district court dismissed with prejudice the Indiana law claims and dismissed without prejudice the Mexican law claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The complaint "plainly" does not describe anything that Berry did in Mexico. Plaintiffs alleging fraud must state particularly “the who, what, when, where, and how” of the circumstances. Vexol’s complaint satisfied none of those requirements. View "Vexol S.A. de C.V. v. Berry Plastics Corp." on Justia Law
Heraeus Kulzer GMBH v. Biomet, Inc.
Heraeus sought to obtain discovery from Biomet to use in its trade secret misappropriation case against Biomet in Germany, citing 28 U.S.C. 1782, which allows a party to file a petition in a federal district court to obtain discovery for use in a foreign proceeding. Biomet produced discovery subject to stipulated protective orders that limited Heraeus’s ability to use or disseminate materials outside of the German proceeding and the section 1782 action. The German court ruled in Heraeus’s favor and enjoined Biomet from manufacturing or distributing products developed using the misappropriated information. That court quoted several documents that were produced in the 1782 proceeding, subject to the stipulated protective orders. Suspicious that Biomet was continuing to sell products made with Heraeus’s trade secrets outside of Germany, Heraeus brought actions in other European countries and moved to modify the section 1782 protective orders, to exclude the documents that the German court relied upon and/or to restrict Biomet’s internal use of those documents. The Seventh Circuit upheld the denial of the motions, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction with respect to the first two denials because Heraeus failed to timely appeal those denials. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the third request to impose restrictions on Biomet’s internal use of the documents it produced. View "Heraeus Kulzer GMBH v. Biomet, Inc." on Justia Law