Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in International Law

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The Second Circuit held that the district court violated the mandate the court issued in a previous decision instructing it not to send the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) claims to trial, and that the district court violated the law of the case by finding that 650 Fifth Avenue Company is a foreign state under the FSIA. Without reaching the merits of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) claims, the court held that the district court abused its discretion by precluding two of defendants’ witnesses from testifying at trial. Finally, the court held that TRIA section 201 litigants lack the right to a jury trial in actions against a state sponsor of terrorism, including its agencies or instrumentalities. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for a new trial on section 201 claims. View "Havlish v. 650 Fifth Avenue Co." on Justia Law

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At issue in this civil forfeiture appeal was whether the district court erred by exercising subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign state's property or abused its discretion by rejecting defendants' statute‐of‐limitations defense sua sponte. The Second Circuit held that the district court had jurisdiction because the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not foreclose in rem civil‐forfeiture suits against a foreign state's property. In this case, however, the district court abused its discretion by sua sponte resolving the statute‐of‐limitations issue without providing defendants notice or an opportunity to defend themselves. Finally, an accompanying summary order considered and rejected defendants' additional challenges. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Assa Co. Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that Assa must turn over substantial real and financial property interests to hundreds of terrorism victims holding default judgments against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The court held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) because Assa is an alter ego of Iran. The court also held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) because Assa is both an alter ego and agency or instrumentality of Iran and its property constituted blocked assets. Therefore, the court held that the district court correctly held that Assa’s property is subject to attachment and execution under section 201 of the TRIA. View "Kirschenbaum v. Assa Corp." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of paying and conspiring to pay bribes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371, 666, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and gratuities to United Nations officials and of related money laundering. Defendant's charges stemmed from his sustained effort to bribe two U.N. officials to designate one of his properties as the permanent site of an annual U.N. convention. The court held that the word "organization" as used in section 666, and defined by 1 U.S.C. 1 and 18 U.S.C. 18, applies to all non‐government legal persons, including public international organizations such as the U.N. The court also held that the "official act" quid pro quo for bribery as proscribed by 18 U.S.C. 201(b)(1), defined by id. section 201(a)(3), and explained in McDonnell v. United States, does not delimit bribery as proscribed by section 666 and the FCPA. Thus, the district court did not err in failing to charge the McDonnell standard for the FCPA crimes of conviction. Insofar as the district court nevertheless charged an "official act" quid pro quo for the section 666 crimes, that error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant, and the jury did not misconstrue the "corruptly" element of section 666 and the FCPA and the "obtaining or retaining business" element of the FCPA. View "United States v. Ng Lap Seng" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, victims or representatives of victims in terrorist attacks in Amman, Jordan, filed suit alleging that defendants aided and abetted the attackers, in violation of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act by providing banking services to Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabiaʹs largest commercial bank, which was thought by some to have ties to al‐Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist organization responsible for the November 9 attacks. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The court held that plaintiffs' civil aiding and abetting claim failed because plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that HSBC was generally aware of its role as part of an overall illegal or tortious activity at the time that it provided the assistance, and that HSBC knowingly and substantially assisted the principal violation. View "Siegel v. HSBC North America Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, U.S. citizens of Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, appealed the district court's dismissal of their federal civil antiterrorism and Israeli law claims against Facebook, alleging that Facebook unlawfully assisted Hamas in the attacks. Plaintiff argued that Hamas used Facebook to post content that encouraged terrorist attacks in Israel during the time period of the attacks. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment as to the federal claims, holding that 42 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) bars civil liability claims that treat a provider or user of an interactive computer service as a publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. In this case, plaintiffs' claims fell within Facebook's status as the publisher of information within the meaning of the statute, and Facebook did not develop the content of the postings at issue. Therefore, section 230(c)(1) applied to Facebook's alleged conduct in this case. The court also held that applying section 230(c)(1) to plaintiffs' claims would not impair the enforcement of a federal criminal statute; the Anti-Terrorism Act's civil remedies provision, 18 U.S.C. 2333, did not implicitly narrow or repeal section 230(c)(1); and applying section 230(c)(1) to plaintiffs' claims would not be impermissibly extraterritorial. Finally, in regard to the foreign law claims, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction sua sponte to cure jurisdictional defects and therefore dismissed these claims. View "Force v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging claims for forced labor and human trafficking in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), as well as a claim for unpaid overtime under Article 19 of the New York Labor Law. Plaintiff, a Filipino citizen, lawfully entered the United States as a temporary guest worker. Defendants are Grandeur, a provider of hotel and resort services, and the manager of Grandeur. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's TVPA claims for forced labor and human trafficking. The court held that plaintiff has plausibly stated violations of the TVPA where the complaint alleged that the employers recruited plaintiff to work for them, told him to rely on them, represented that they were ensuring that he could remain lawfully in this country, and warned him that they would cancel their sponsorship if he left them or gave them any trouble. View "Adia v. Grandeur Management, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law

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Respondent appealed the district court's final order granting petitioner's petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for the return of the parties' minor child. The Second Circuit agreed with the district court's habitual residence determination, but held that the district court erred in granting the petition because the most important protective measures it imposed are unenforceable and not otherwise accompanied by sufficient guarantees of performance. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings concerning the availability of alternative ameliorative measures. View "Saada v. Golan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that defendants, while located in foreign nations, used the mail or wires to order fraudulent asset transfers from plaintiffs' New York bank accounts to defendants' own accounts. The district court held that all but one of the schemes were impermissibly extraterritorial under either civil RICO, 18 U.S.C. 1964(c), or the mail, wire, and bank fraud statutes plaintiffs cited as predicates to the civil RICO cause of action. The district court found the remaining scheme, standing alone, did not constitute a pattern of racketeering activity under RICO. At issue was whether the conduct violating the predicate statutes was extraterritorial, the application of civil RICO to plaintiff's alleged injuries was extraterritorial, and whether the surviving schemes amounted to a pattern of racketeering activity. The Second Circuit held that each of the schemes to defraud, except for the Sham Management Fees Scheme, calls for domestic applications of 18 U.S.C. 1962(c), 1962(d), 1341, 1343, and 1344(2). The court also held that the district court abused its discretion by dismissing the state law claims for lack of supplemental jurisdiction. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bascuñán v. Elsaca" on Justia Law

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After Congress enacted the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), plaintiffs moved the DC Circuit to recall the mandate issued after the court's decision holding that the federal courts lacked personal jurisdiction over the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority (defendants). The court denied plaintiffs' motion and held that plaintiffs failed to show circumstances that warrant the extraordinary remedy of recalling the mandate. The court considered all of the arguments and, to the extent not specifically addressed, they were either moot or without merit. View "Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization" on Justia Law