by
Plaintiff filed suit against Tri Marine in Washington state court, seeking to recover additional expenses for a knee injury he experienced as a deck hand on one of Tri Marine's vessels. Tri Marine then removed the case to federal court and moved to confirm an order issued by an arbitrator in the Philippines as a foreign arbitral award. The district court denied plaintiff's motion to remand, confirmed the order, and dismissed the action. The Ninth Circuit held that the parties' free-floating settlement agreement and order did not transform into an arbitral award simply because the parties convened with an arbitrator. The panel evaluated the award by looking to its essence and found several unique aspects of these proceedings that lead it to concluded that the order was not an arbitral award. In this case, there was no outstanding dispute to arbitrate by the time plaintiff and Tri Marine sat down with the arbitrator as the parties had already reached a settlement; the purported arbitration in no way followed the parties' prior agreements to arbitrate; and the procedure here deviated completely from typical Philippine procedures. The panel reversed in part and vacated in part, remanding for the district court to assess jurisdiction under the Convention Act and venue, as well as any defenses. View "Castro v. Tri Marine Fish Co." on Justia Law

by
The 1945 International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA) grants international organizations the “same immunity from suit . . . as is enjoyed by foreign governments,” 22 U.S.C. 288a(b). At that time, foreign governments were entitled to virtually absolute immunity as a matter of international comity. In 1952, the State Department adopted a more restrictive theory, codified in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602, which gives foreign sovereign governments presumptive immunity from suit, subject to exceptions, including an exception for actions based on commercial activity with a sufficient nexus with the U.S. IFC, an IOIA international organization, borrowed from Coastal (based in India) to finance the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Gujarat. Petitioners sued IFC, claiming that pollution from the plant harmed the surrounding air, land, and water. The Third Circuit affirmed a holding that the IFC was immune from suit under the IOIA. The Supreme Court reversed. The IOIA affords international organizations the same immunity from suit that foreign governments enjoy today under the FSIA. The “same as” formulation makes international organization immunity and foreign sovereign immunity continuously equivalent. The Court noted other statutes that use similar language to place groups on equal footing. IOIA’s reference to the immunity enjoyed by foreign governments is to an external body of potentially evolving law. The fact that the President can modify otherwise applicable immunity rules is compatible with those rules changing over time in light of developments in the law governing foreign sovereign immunity. The Court noted the State Department’s position that immunity rules of IOIA and FSIA were linked following FSIA’s enactment and that an international organization’s charter can always specify a different level of immunity. View "Jam v. International Finance Corp." on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment after a jury found defendant civilly liable to plaintiff under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Plaintiff filed suit against defendant for her role in the sexual abuse that plaintiff suffered at the hands of defendant's husband when plaintiff worked as their housekeeper in housing provided by the Embassy of the United States in Yemen. The court held, in light of RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European Cmty., 136 S. Ct. 2090 (2016), that the TVPA's civil remedy provision applied to defendant's conduct in Yemen in 2007. The court confined its analysis to the text of 18 U.S.C. 1595 and held that section 1595 applied extraterritorially to defendant's conduct. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting another housekeeper's evidence concerning sexual abuse she suffered while working for defendant and her husband. View "Roe v. Howard" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, Palestinians who mostly reside in the disputed West Bank territory, sued pro-Israeli American citizens and entities, including a former U.S. deputy national security advisor, claiming that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to expel all non-Jews from the territory by providing financial and construction assistance to “settlements” and that the defendants knew their conduct would result in the mass killings of Palestinians. The claims cited the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1350; American-citizen plaintiffs also brought claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 102-256. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that the complaint raised nonjusticiable political questions. The D.C. Circuit reversed after holding that the court correctly treated the issue as jurisdictional. The court first identified two relevant questions: Who has sovereignty over the disputed territory Are Israeli settlers committing genocide? The court then applied the Supreme Court’s “Baker" factors, concluded that the only political question concerned who has sovereignty, and held that the question is extricable because a court could rule in the plaintiffs’ favor without addressing who has sovereignty if it concluded that Israeli settlers are committing genocide. If it becomes clear at a later stage that resolving any of the claims requires a sovereignty determination, those claims can be dismissed. View "Al-Tamimi v. Adelson" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner, a German citizen, sought the return of his children from the United States to Switzerland under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Respondent, a French citizen who moved with the children from Switzerland to Georgia, opposed the children's return. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the petition to return the children to Switzerland and held that, although petitioner established that the children's habitual residence at the time of removal was Switzerland, he failed to demonstrate that respondent's removal of the children violated his custody rights under Swiss law. In this case, the divorce judgment constituted a decision of the Swiss court and under the divorce judgment, respondent had the sole rights of custody as they pertained to determining whether to move the children to the United States. View "Pfeiffer v. Bachotet" on Justia Law

by
Assuming the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's immunity applies, the DC Circuit held that it leaves intact the district courts' subject-matter jurisdiction over federal criminal cases involving foreign sovereigns. The court affirmed the district court's order holding the subpoena's target, a corporation owned by a foreign sovereign, in contempt for failure to comply. In this case, the court held that there was a reasonable probability the information sought through the subpoena at issue concerned a commercial activity that caused a direct effect in the United States. The court held that the Act, even where it applies, allows courts to exercise jurisdiction over such activities and the ancillary challenges in this appeal lacked merit. View "In re: Grand Jury Subpoena" on Justia Law

by
Survivors filed suit against the Republic of Hungary and Hungary's state-owned railway company, seeking compensation for the seizure and expropriation of Survivors' property as part of the Hungarian government's genocidal campaign. The DC Circuit held that the district court erred by dismissing the case on remand. The court held that the district court erred by dismissing the case on international comity grounds where the court's recent decision in Philipp v. Federal Republic of Germany, 894 F.3d 406 (D.C. Cir. 2018), squarely rejected the asserted comity-based ground for declining statutorily assigned jurisdiction. In regard to the dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds, the court held that the district court committed material legal errors at each step of its analysis. The court explained that there was far too little in this record to designate Hungary as a more convenient forum than the one chosen by the Survivors. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Simon v. Republic of Hungary" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a permanent injunction enjoining the government from continuing to apply the requirement that government funds assisting plaintiffs' efforts to fight HIV/AIDS abroad could not be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. In Agency for Int'l Dev. v. Alliance for Open Soc. Int'l, Inc., 570 U.S. 205 (2013), the Supreme Court concluded that the requirement compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment. Applying the Supreme Court's reasoning in AOSI to this case, the court held that the speech of a recipient who rejects the government's message was unconstitutionally restricted when it has an affiliate who is forced to speak the government's contrasting message. The court rejected the remaining claims and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "Alliance for Open Society International v. United States Agency for International Development" on Justia Law

by
In a child custody proceeding arising under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by granting mother's motion to quash temporary emergency orders on child custody and visitation. The trial court had found that a Belarus residency action was a child custody proceeding within the meaning of the UCCJEA, and the Belarus court had jurisdiction substantially in conformity with the UCCJEA. The court held that the UCCJEA mandates that before a child custody determination is made, notice and an opportunity to be heard must be given to all persons entitled to notice. In this case, father received no notice of the Belarus action, and notice was not given in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice. Therefore, the Belarus court did not have jurisdiction in conformity with UCCJEA standards. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "W.M. v. V.A." on Justia Law

by
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