Articles Posted in International Law

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Vera sued the Republic of Cuba for the extrajudicial killing of his father in 1976. In 2008, Vera obtained a default judgment against Cuba in Florida state court, relying on the “terrorism exception” to sovereign immunity, 28 U.S.C. 1605A(a)(1). Vera then secured a default judgment against Cuba in a U.S. District Court in New York, which granted full faith and credit to the Florida judgment. Vera served information subpoenas on the New York branches of various foreign banks, including BBVA, which refused to comply with the subpoena’s request for information regarding Cuban assets located outside the U.S. BBVA moved to quash the subpoena, contending that Vera’s judgment was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1602. The Second Circuit reversed in favor of BBVA. The district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Vera’s action against Cuba because Cuba was not designated a state sponsor of terrorism at the time Vera’s father was killed. Vera failed to establish that Cuba was designated a state sponsor of terrorism as a result of his father’s death. The FSIA’s terrorism exception to sovereign immunity—the only potential basis for subject matter jurisdiction— did not apply. Cuba was immune from Vera’s action. View "Vera v. Republic of Cuba" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) after he was held in immigration detention for more than three years because the government mistakenly believed that he was a deportable alien. The district court found the government liable to plaintiff on the false imprisonment claim, dismissed the malicious prosecution claim and negligent investigation claim on motion, and entered judgment for the government on the negligent delay claim post-trial. The Second Circuit reversed the judgment as to the false imprisonment claim because it was time-barred. The court affirmed the judgment in all other respects, holding that the malicious prosecution claim failed because the government did not act with malice, the negligent investigation claim failed for lack of a private analogue, and the negligent delay claim failed because plaintiff suffered no cognizable damages. View "Watson v. United States" on Justia Law

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Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(5) applies to a district court's consideration of a motion to vacate a judgment enforcing an arbitral award that has since been annulled in the primary jurisdiction. In this case, petitioners submitted to arbitration in Malaysia a commercial dispute arising from the terminations by Laos of contracts granting TLL rights to mine lignite. An arbitral panel found Laos in breach and awarded petitioners approximately $57 million. Petitioners subsequently began enforcement actions under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Petitioners received judgment in their favor in the United States and United Kingdom. In 2012, the arbitral award was set aside. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order vacating the United States judgment, holding that the district court did not exceed the permissible bounds of its discretion under the facts of this case. The court also held that the district court did not exceed the permissible bounds of its discretion in refusing to order Laos to post security during the pendency of its Rule 60(b) motion and any subsequent appeals, nor did it err by refusing to enforce the English judgment. View "Thai-Lao Lignite (Thailand) Co., Ltd. v. Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Amendment's prohibition on the use of compelled testimony in American criminal proceedings applies even when a foreign sovereign has compelled the testimony.  When the government makes use of a witness who had substantial exposure to a defendant's compelled testimony, it is required under Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441 (1972), to prove, at a minimum, that the witness's review of the compelled testimony did not shape, alter, or affect the evidence used by the government.  A bare, generalized denial of taint from a witness who has materially altered his or her testimony after being substantially exposed to a defendant’s compelled testimony is insufficient as a matter of law to sustain the prosecution’s burden of proof. In this case involving the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), defendants were convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. The Second Circuit held that defendants' compelled testimony was "used" against them, and this impermissible use before the petit and grand juries was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Accordingly, the court reversed the judgments of conviction and dismissed the indictment. View "United States v. Allen" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in declining to vacate an arbitral award‐creditor’s ex parte petition for entry of a federal judgment against a foreign sovereign premised on an award made under the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention). The court rejected Mobil's argument that 22 U.S.C. 1650a provides an independent grant of subject‐matter jurisdiction for actions against foreign sovereigns and decided that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1330, 1391(f), 1441(d), 1602‐1611, provides the sole basis for subject‐matter jurisdiction over actions to enforce ICSID awards against a foreign sovereign. Because Mobil's utilization of ex parte proceedings were neither permitted by the FSIA nor required by Section 1650(a), the court reversed Venezuela's motion to vacate, vacated the judgment in favor of Mobil, and remanded with instructions to dismiss the ex parte petition. View "Mobil Cerro Negro, Ltd. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against BNTK and BUSA for their alleged roles in plaintiffs' 2008 abduction from London and their prolonged detention in Belarus by authorities of that country. The Second Circuit held that it has jurisdiction to review this appeal pursuant to the collateral order doctrine; the district court acted within its discretion in ordering limited jurisdictional discovery and in sanctioning defendants for failing to comply with that order; but to the extent the challenged October 20, 2015 order not only required defendants to pay an earlier accrued monetary sanction but also struck their sovereign immunity claim in its entirety, it exceeded the district court's discretion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the challenged order generally, vacating only that part striking defendants' foreign sovereign immunity claim, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Funk v. Belneftekhim" on Justia Law

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CBF, appellants and award-creditors, challenged the district court's two judgments dismissing CBF's initial action to enforce and subsequent action to confirm a foreign arbitral award against appellees as alter-egos of the then defunct award-debtor. The court granted appellees' petition for rehearing for the limited purpose of vacating the original decision and simultaneously issuing this amended decision to correct the court's instructions to the district court with regards to the applicable law for an enforcement action at Section I.c., infra. In No. 15‐1133, the court held that the district court both (1) erred in determining that the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and Chapter 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 201 et seq., require appellants to seek confirmation of a foreign arbitral award before the award may be enforced by a United States District Court and (2) erred in holding that appellants' fraud claims should be dismissed prior to discovery on the ground of issue preclusion as issue preclusion was an equitable doctrine and appellants plausibly alleged that appellees engaged in fraud. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings. In 15‐1146, the court held that the appeal of the judgment dismissing the action to confirm was moot and accordingly dismissed that appeal. View "CBF Industria De Gusa S/A v. AMCI Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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CBF, appellants and award-creditors, challenged the district court's two judgments dismissing CBF's initial action to enforce and subsequent action to confirm a foreign arbitral award against appellees as alter-egos of the then defunct award-debtor. The court held that the district court erred in determining that the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and Chapter 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 201 et seq., require appellants to seek confirmation of a foreign arbitral award before the award may be enforced by a United States District Court, and in holding that appellants’ fraud claims should be dismissed prior to discovery on the ground of issue preclusion as issue preclusion is an equitable doctrine and appellants plausibly allege that appellees engaged in fraud. In No. 15-1133, the court vacated the dismissal of the action to enforce and remanded for further proceedings. In No. 15-1146, the court found the appeal of the district court's order in the action to conform is moot and dismissed the appeal. View "CBF Industria De Gusa S/A v. AMCI Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, five entities incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, filed suit against the Republic of Ecuador and two of Ecuador's instrumentalities, CFN and Trust, claiming that an agency of the Republic of Ecuador unlawfully seized their property in Ecuador. The district court dismissed the complaint with prejudice for want of subject matter jurisdiction. The court affirmed and concluded that the presumption of legal separateness established by the Supreme Court in First National City Bank v. Banco Para el Comercio Exterior de Cuba, and respect for international comity compel the court to treat these legally separate entities as just that, unless plaintiffs can demonstrate that CFN and the Trust exercise “significant and repeated control over the [entities’] day‐to‐day operations.” Because plaintiffs have failed to clear this substantial bar, they fail to satisfy the requirements of Section 1605(a)(3) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3). Therefore, defendants are protected by sovereign immunity and the court need not consider the alternative bases for dismissal relied on by the district court or presented by defendants. View "Arch Trading Corp. v. Republic of Ecuador" on Justia Law

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Eleven American families filed suit against the PLO and the PA under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. 2333(a), for various terror attacks in Israel that killed or wounded plaintiffs or their families. A jury awarded plaintiffs damages of $218.5 million, an amount that was trebled automatically pursuant to the ATA, 18 U.S.C. 2333(a), bringing the total award to $655.5 million. Both parties appealed. The court concluded that the minimum contacts and fairness analysis is the same under the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment in civil cases. On the merits, the court concluded that, pursuant to the Supreme Court's recent decision in Daimler, the district court could not properly exercise general personal jurisdiction over defendants. The court also concluded that, because the terror attacks in Israel at issue here were not expressly aimed at the United States and because the deaths and injuries suffered by the American plaintiffs in these attacks were “random [and] fortuitous” and because lobbying activities regarding American policy toward Israel are insufficiently “suit-related conduct” to support specific jurisdiction, the court lacks specific jurisdiction over these defendants. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for the district court with instructions to dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction. The court did not consider defendants' other arguments on appeal or plaintiffs' cross-appeal, all of which are now moot. View "Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Org." on Justia Law