Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

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The case originates from an Application for Judicial Assistance under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 by Frasers Group PLC ("Frasers"), a British retailer group. Frasers requested to obtain documentary and testimonial evidence from James Patrick Gorman, the former CEO of Morgan Stanley, for use in a lawsuit started in the UK. The district court denied the application, and Frasers appealed this decision.The dispute revolves around a series of transactions Frasers entered into with Saxo Bank A/S related to shares of the fashion company Hugo Boss. Concurrently, Saxo Bank engaged in trades with Morgan Stanley & Co. International PLC, a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley. A margin call was issued by Morgan Stanley, leading to a dispute and the commencement of the lawsuit in the UK.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision, finding no abuse of discretion. The court considered the factors established by the Supreme Court in Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., which guide district courts when determining whether to grant domestic discovery for use in foreign proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a). The court found that the first factor—whether “the person from whom discovery is sought is a participant in the foreign proceeding”— and the fourth factor—whether the discovery request is “unduly intrusive or burdensome”— weighed against granting the Application. Consequently, the court upheld the denial of the Application. View "FRASERS GROUP PLC v. MORGAN STANLEY" on Justia Law

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The case involved a dispute between two Brazilian nationals, Heitor Ferreira da Costa and Jessica Camila Albefaro de Lima, who were previously married and had a child together. Following their divorce in Brazil, de Lima moved with the child to the United States without da Costa's knowledge. Once da Costa discovered his ex-wife and child's location, he filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Convention) to have the child returned to Brazil. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied da Costa's petition, concluding that the child was now settled in his new environment and it would not exercise its discretion to order the child's return. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the decision, agreeing with the lower court's conclusion based on the totality of the circumstances, including the child's age, stability and duration of residence in the new environment, relationships with family members in the United States, and his progress in learning English. The appellate court noted that returning the child to Brazil would be disruptive given the child's strong connections in the United States and his limited connections to Brazil. View "Ferreira da Costa v. Albefaro de Lima" on Justia Law

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The defendant, Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah, a Syrian national, was convicted after a jury trial for participating in a conspiracy that targeted US military personnel and property in Iraq. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed some convictions and reversed others. The court agreed with both parties that Alahmedalabdaloklah's convictions for conspiring to possess a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence and aiding and abetting the same could not stand after the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Davis. The court reversed these convictions and remanded to the district court to vacate them. However, the court affirmed Alahmedalabdaloklah's convictions for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring to damage US government property by means of an explosive. The court held that the statutes under which Alahmedalabdaloklah was convicted applied extraterritorially, meaning they applied to acts committed outside the United States. The court also held that the district court properly used procedures set forth in the Classified Information Procedures Act to withhold or substitute classified information from discovery. Despite several errors by the government in invoking the state-secrets privilege, the court excused these errors because remanding for proper invocation would be of little or no benefit. Finally, the court held that the use of overseas deposition testimony did not violate Alahmedalabdaloklah's rights under the Confrontation Clause or other constitutional and evidentiary rules. The court remanded the case to the district court for resentencing. View "USA V. ALAHMEDALABDALOKLAH" on Justia Law

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In this case, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sought to recover approximately $3.3 million from Raimund Gastauer, a German citizen residing in Germany, alleging that Gastauer received the money from his son, who had obtained the money through securities fraud in the United States. Gastauer challenged the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts over him, contending that he had no relevant contacts with the United States. The district court, however, ruled it could assert jurisdiction over Gastauer because it had jurisdiction over his son, the primary defendant. The judgment ordered Gastauer to pay the $3.3 million, plus prejudgment interest, to the SEC.Gastauer appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the district court's decision. The appellate court rejected the SEC's argument that a court may impute the jurisdictional contacts of a primary defendant to a relief defendant who received ill-gotten funds from the primary defendant. It held that such an approach would violate the relief defendant's due process rights, particularly where, as here, the relief defendant had no relevant contacts with the United States and was not accused of any wrongdoing. The appellate court also underscored that the relief defendant's status as a foreign resident further cautioned against an expansive view of the district court's jurisdiction, given the potential risks to international comity. The appellate court remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "SEC v. Gastauer" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), offered a bond swap whereby its noteholders could exchange unsecured notes due in 2017 for new, secured notes due in 2020. PDVSA defaulted in 2019, and the National Assembly of Venezuela passed a resolution declaring the bond swap a "national public contract" requiring its approval under Article 150 of the Venezuelan Constitution. PDVSA, along with its subsidiaries PDVSA Petróleo S.A. and PDV Holding, Inc., initiated a lawsuit seeking a judgment declaring the 2020 Notes and their governing documents "invalid, illegal, null, and void ab initio, and thus unenforceable." The case was taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which certified three questions to the New York Court of Appeals.The New York Court of Appeals, in answering the first question, ruled that Venezuelan law governs the validity of the notes under Uniform Commercial Code § 8-110 (a) (1), which encompasses plaintiffs' arguments concerning whether the issuance of the notes was duly authorized by the Venezuelan National Assembly under the Venezuelan Constitution. However, New York law governs the transaction in all other respects, including the consequences if a security was "issued with a defect going to its validity." Given the court's answer to the first certified question, it did not answer the remaining questions. View "Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. v MUFG Union Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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This case involves Vertiv, Inc., Vertiv Capital, Inc., and Gnaritis, Inc., Delaware corporations, who sued Wayne Burt, PTE Ltd., a Singaporean corporation, for defaulting on a loan. Vertiv sought damages and a declaratory judgment. Later, Wayne Burt informed the court that it was in liquidation proceedings in Singapore and moved to vacate the judgments against it. The District Court granted the motion and vacated the judgments, reopening the cases. Wayne Burt then moved to dismiss Vertiv’s claims, either on international comity grounds in deference to the ongoing liquidation proceedings in Singapore, or due to a lack of personal jurisdiction. The District Court granted Wayne Burt’s motion to dismiss, concluding that extending comity to the Singaporean court proceedings was appropriate.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit vacated the District Court's decision and remanded the case. The court clarified the standard to apply when deciding whether to abstain from adjudicating a case in deference to a pending foreign bankruptcy proceeding. The court held that a U.S. civil action is “parallel” to a foreign bankruptcy proceeding when: (1) the foreign bankruptcy proceeding is ongoing in a duly authorized tribunal while the civil action is pending in the U.S. court; and (2) the outcome of the U.S. civil action may affect the debtor’s estate. The court also held that a party seeking the extension of comity must show that (1) “the foreign bankruptcy law shares the U.S. policy of equal distribution of assets,” and (2) “the foreign law mandates the issuance or at least authorizes the request for the stay.” If a party makes a prima facie case for comity, the court should then determine whether extending comity would be prejudicial to U.S. interests. If a U.S. court decides to extend comity to a foreign bankruptcy proceeding, it should ordinarily stay the civil action or dismiss it without prejudice. View "Vertiv Inc. v. Wayne Burt PTE Ltd" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the government of Mexico against several U.S. gun manufacturers and a gun distributor. The lawsuit alleges that these companies facilitated illegal gun trafficking into Mexico, causing significant harm to the country. The lower court had dismissed the case based on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which generally prohibits lawsuits against gun manufacturers and sellers for harm caused by the criminal misuse of their products. On appeal, the First Circuit held that the PLCAA does apply to lawsuits initiated by foreign governments for harm suffered outside the United States. However, the court also found that Mexico's lawsuit plausibly alleges a type of claim that is statutorily exempt from the PLCAA's general prohibition, specifically, that the defendants knowingly violated federal and state statutes applicable to the sale or marketing of firearms, and that this violation was a proximate cause of the harm Mexico suffered. The case was remanded back to the lower court for further proceedings. View "Estados Unidos Mexicanos v. Smith & Wesson Brands Inc." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in a case brought by the State of Missouri against several Chinese entities, including the government of the People's Republic of China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and others. Missouri accused the defendants of negligence in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, alleging that they allowed the virus to spread worldwide, engaged in a campaign to keep other countries from learning about the virus, and hoarded personal protective equipment (PPE). The court decided that most of Missouri's claims were blocked by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally protects foreign states from lawsuits in U.S. courts. However, the court allowed one claim to proceed: the allegation that China hoarded PPE while the rest of the world was unaware of the extent of the virus. The court held that this claim fell under the "commercial activity" exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, as it involved alleged anti-competitive behavior that had a direct effect in the United States. The case was remanded for further proceedings on this claim. View "The State of Missouri v. The Peoples Republic of China" on Justia Law

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This case was brought by the plaintiffs-appellants, David Cassirer, the Estate of Ava Cassirer, and the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County, against the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation, an instrumentality of the Kingdom of Spain. The case centers around a painting by French Impressionist Camille Pissarro, which was stolen by the Nazis in 1939 Germany. The painting eventually came into the possession of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, which has publicly displayed it in Madrid, Spain since 1993. When the plaintiffs learned of the painting's location in 2000, they petitioned for its return, but were denied, leading to the present lawsuit filed in 2005.The case hinged on whether Spanish or California law should govern the determination of ownership of the painting. Under Spanish law, the defendant would retain the painting, having gained prescriptive title through possession for over three years in good faith. Under California law, the plaintiffs would recover the painting, as a thief cannot pass good title to stolen property.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, on remand from the United States Supreme Court, applied California’s three-step “governmental interest analysis” for choice-of-law disputes. The court found that there was a true conflict between the laws of Spain and California, and that each jurisdiction had a legitimate interest in applying its laws to the case. The court then resolved the conflict by applying the law of the jurisdiction whose governmental interests would be more impaired if its law were not applied. The court concluded that Spain’s governmental interests would be more impaired by the application of California law than would California’s governmental interests be impaired by the application of Spanish law. Thus, Spanish law applied, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection had gained prescriptive title to the painting. The court affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. View "CASSIRER V. THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA COLLECTION" on Justia Law

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In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit considered an appeal by Jose Guadalupe Diaz-Diaz and Martin Perez-Marrufo, two members of the Barrio Azteca gang, who were convicted for their involvement in the murders of three people in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in 2011. The defendants separately appealed their convictions and sentences, specifically questioning whether sufficient evidence existed to support their convictions for conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country under 18 U.S.C. § 956(a)(1). Diaz also challenged his aiding-and-abetting convictions and his three consecutive life sentences for his convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) and (j). Perez-Marrufo also challenged an obstruction of justice enhancement imposed at sentencing.The court held that sufficient evidence existed to support the defendants' convictions for conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country. The court also affirmed the obstruction of justice sentencing enhancement in Perez-Marrufo's case and the sufficiency of the evidence to support Diaz's convictions for aiding and abetting in Salcido's murder. However, the court held that the district court erred in imposing mandatory consecutive life sentences for Diaz's three section 924(j) convictions and remanded the case for resentencing on these counts. View "USA v. Diaz Diaz" on Justia Law