Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Law
Christine Levinson et al. v. Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Berhad
Appellees hold a Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA) judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Based on that judgment, Appellees moved for a writ of execution against the assets of Kuwait Finance House (KFH) Malaysia in district court. The district court granted the writ before making any findings as to whether KFH Malaysia is an “agency or instrumentality” of Iran or whether the assets at issue are “blocked.” The primary issue on appeal is whether the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) permits those assets to be executed prior to such findings. The Second Circuit denied Appellees’ motion to dismiss the appeal, denied KFH Malaysia’s petition for a writ of mandamus, vacated the order granting the writ of execution, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. The court explained to be entitled to attachment or execution under the TRIA a plaintiff must first establish defendant’s status as an agency or instrumentality. Here, these procedures were not followed. Article 52 permits parties to commence turnover proceedings to enforce money judgments. Below, that turnover proceeding commenced, but the district court granted the relief sought in that proceeding—a writ of execution—before it considered the antecedent issue of whether KFH Malaysia is an agency or instrumentality of Iran or whether the assets at issue are “blocked.” Without such findings, there has been no showing that KFH Malaysia is in possession of property. Accordingly, Appellees failed to meet the statutory and, and consequently, they failed to establish that they were entitled to a writ of execution. View "Christine Levinson et al. v. Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Berhad" on Justia Law
Yoo v. United States
Petitioner appealed from a district court judgment denying his petition for writ of habeas corpus in connection with an extradition proceeding. Petitioner argued that the text of the relevant extradition treaty and its legislative history indicate that whether extradition is time-barred is a question for the extradition court, which cannot issue a certificate of extraditability if extradition is so barred. The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that the most natural reading of the relevant extradition treaty’s text is that the issue of timeliness is a matter for the relevant executive authority to decide in its discretion, not a question for the extradition court to decide as a matter of law. The court explained that based on the customary meaning of the word “may” and its particular use in Article 6 of the Treaty; the Senate Report’s Technical Analysis, the most authoritative item of legislative history cited by either party to this case; and the government’s consistent position as to the meaning of the provision, the court held that the plain meaning of the word “may” in that provision is discretionary, and not mandatory, in nature. The court further explained that because Article 6‘s Lapse of Time provision is discretionary, the decision whether to deny extradition on the basis that the Requested State’s relevant statute of limitations would have barred prosecution had the relevant offense been committed within that State’s jurisdiction is a decision consigned to that State’s relevant executive authority, and is not a mandatory determination to be made by a federal court before issuing a certificate of extraditability. View "Yoo v. United States" on Justia Law
Esso Expl. and Prod. Nigeria Ltd. v. Nigerian Nat’l Petroleum Corp.
Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, (“Esso”) the Nigerian subsidiary of an international oil corporation, asked federal courts in the United States to enforce an arbitral award of $1.8 billion, plus interest, against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) that Nigerian courts have partially set aside. Courts in Nigeria previously set aside the Award in part. Nonetheless, Esso seeks enforcement of the entire Award under the New York Convention. NNPC urges dismissal of Esso’s suit for lack of personal jurisdiction and on the basis of forum non-conveniens, and it opposes the petition for enforcement on the merits. The Second Circuit determined affirmed the district court’s rulings because its factual determinations were meticulous and its legal conclusions sound. The court held that NNPC has standing on cross-appeal to challenge the denial of its motion to dismiss, even though the district court ruled in its favor on the merits. NNPC has such standing because our partial vacatur on the merits revives the action against it, and it may face an adverse ruling on remand. On considering NNPC’s challenges to the district court’s denial of its motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction and forum non-conveniens. The court wrote that although the district court should have broadened its analysis under the Pemex standard, it ultimately agreed with its conclusion that U.S. courts owe the Nigerian judgments setting aside the Award comity. The court concluded, however, that the district court went too far by refusing to enforce not only those parts of the Award that the Nigerian courts set aside but also those parts of the Award that remain viable under the Nigerian judgments. View "Esso Expl. and Prod. Nigeria Ltd. v. Nigerian Nat'l Petroleum Corp." on Justia Law
Bainbridge Fund Ltd. v. The Republic of Argentina
Plaintiff Bainbridge Fund Ltd. is the beneficial owner of bonds issued by the Republic of Argentina. Argentina defaulted on these bonds back in 2001, but Bainbridge didn’t sue to recover them until 2016. The district court dismissed Bainbridge’s claims as untimely under New York’s six-year statute of limitations for contract actions and the Second Circuit’s nonprecedential decisions. Bainbridge appealed, asking the Second Circuit to reconsider those decisions. Specifically, Bainbridge argues that (1) the twenty-year statute of limitations for recovery on certain bonds under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 34 Section 211(a) applies to its claims against Argentina; and (2) even if the six-year limitations period for contract actions applies, it was tolled under N.Y. Gen. Oblig Law Section 17-101 because Argentina “acknowledged” this debt when it publicly listed the bonds in its quarterly financial statements (the “Quarterly Reports”). The Second Circuit rejected Plaintiff’s arguments. First, the twenty-year statute of limitations does not apply to claims on Argentine bonds because a foreign sovereign is not a “person” under N.Y. C.P.L.R. Section 211(a). Second, tolling under N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law Section 17-101 is inapplicable because the Quarterly Reports did not “acknowledge” the debt at issue in a way that reflected an intention to pay or seek to influence the bondholders’ behavior. To the contrary, Argentina repeatedly stated that the bonds “may remain in default indefinitely.” Bainbridge’s claims are thus time-barred. View "Bainbridge Fund Ltd. v. The Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law
El Omari v. The International Criminal Police Organization
Plaintiff filed an action against the International Criminal Police Organization (“Interpol”), charging negligent infliction of emotional distress and violation of his right to due process of law under the New York State Constitution after Interpol refused to delete a so-called “red notice” identifying Plaintiff as a convicted criminal in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”). The district court granted Interpol’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that Interpol is a protected organization under the International Organizations Immunities Act (“IOIA”), 22 U.S.C. Sections 288-288l, and thus enjoys the same immunity from suit normally enjoyed by foreign sovereigns. The Second Circuit affirmed concluding that the term “public international organizations” as used in 22 U.S.C. Section 288 includes any international organization that is composed of governments as its members, regardless of whether it has been formed by international treaty. Further, the court found that Interpol qualifies as a “public international organization” for the purposes of 22 U.S.C. Section 288 because its members are official government actors whose involvement is subject to control by participating nations. Next, the Headquarters Agreement between Interpol and the Government of France does not constitute an immunity waiver that would permit the present suit in a United States district court. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Plaintiff’s request for jurisdictional discovery prior to dismissal. View "El Omari v. The International Criminal Police Organization" on Justia Law
Aenergy, S.A. v. Republic of Angola
Plaintiffs Aenergy, S.A., and Combined Cycle Power Plant Soyo, S.A. (together, “AE”), sued various Angolan Government entities (together, “Angola”), plus General Electric Co. and related entities (together, “GE”). AE alleges that Angola wrongfully cancelled AE’s Angolan power plant contracts and seized its related property in violation of state and international law and that GE interfered with its contracts and prospective business relations.The court found that the standard principles of forum non conveniens applies to AE’s lawsuit brought pursuant to exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”), 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1605. The court reasoned that forum non conveniens does not require a case-by-case consideration of comity, and therefore is consistent with the FSIA’s purpose in establishing a “comprehensive set of legal standards.”The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing AE’s complaint on forum non conveniens grounds. AE argues that the district court erred in applying the three-step forum non conveniens analysis. The court held that the district court reasonably found that AE’s forum choice was entitled to minimal deference; that Angola is an adequate alternative forum; and that the public and private Gilbert factors favor Angola. Thus the court affirmed the district court’s orders. View "Aenergy, S.A. v. Republic of Angola" on Justia Law
Celestin v. Caribbean Air Mail, Inc.
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that Haitian government officials and multinational corporations conspired to fix the prices of remittances and telephone calls from the United States to Haiti. Plaintiffs allege a price-fixing claim under the Sherman Act and related state law claims, alleging that defendants agreed to produce official instruments (a Presidential Order and two Circulars of the Bank of the Republic of Haiti) to disguise their agreement as a tax for domestic education programs.The Second Circuit held that the act of state doctrine does not bar adjudication of a claim merely because that claim turns on the "propriety" of the official acts of a foreign sovereign. Instead, the doctrine forecloses a claim only if it would require a court to declare that an official act of a foreign sovereign is invalid, i.e., to deny the act legal effect. In this case, even assuming the Presidential Order and Circulars have their full purported legal effect under Haitian law, the court concluded that plaintiffs' antitrust claim under U.S. federal law remains cognizable. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the antitrust claim under the act of state doctrine and vacated the dismissal of the fifteen state law claims for reanalysis under the proper standard. The court also vacated the dismissal on the alternative grounds of forum non conveniens because the district court did not give due deference to U.S.-resident plaintiffs' choice of forum. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Celestin v. Caribbean Air Mail, Inc." on Justia Law
Federal Republic of Nigeria v. VR Advisory Services, Ltd.
The Second Circuit vacated the district court's order vacating its earlier grant of Nigeria's application for discovery from VR under 28 U.S.C. 1782, holding that the district court's decision was based on an error of law, and thus amounted to an abuse of discretion as it effectively erected an impermissible extra-statutory barrier to discovery under section 1782. The court explained that the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters by its plain terms does not restrict Nigeria's use of other lawful means to access evidence in the United States for use in criminal matters. Rather, it expands such access, supplementing rather than replacing other evidence-gathering tools such as section 1782. Therefore, Nigeria does not circumvent the Treaty by applying directly to the district court for discovery under section 1782.The court also concluded that the district court erred by concluding that Nigeria's potential use of the discovery materials sought in a related proceeding challenging an arbitration award before an English court would be "improper" and by considering such potential use as a negative factor in addressing Nigeria's section 1782 application. Accordingly, the court remanded for further consideration. View "Federal Republic of Nigeria v. VR Advisory Services, Ltd." on Justia Law
United States v. Sindzingre
Defendant, a citizen and resident of France charged with violating the Commodity Exchange Act, appealed the district court's memorandum order applying the fugitive disentitlement doctrine and denying her motions to dismiss the indictment on grounds of extraterritoriality and due process.After determining that it has jurisdiction to review the order disentitling defendant, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings to consider or reconsider the merits of her motions to dismiss. The court agreed with defendant that it has jurisdiction to review the fugitive disentitlement ruling pursuant to the collateral order doctrine. The court held that defendant is not a fugitive, and that, even if she were, the district court abused its discretion in concluding that disentitlement was justified. The court explained that fugitivity implies some action by defendant to distance herself from the United States or frustrate arrest, but she took no such action. The court concluded, however, that it lacked jurisdiction to review the merits of the extraterritoriality and due process challenges and dismissed the appeal to that extent. View "United States v. Sindzingre" on Justia Law
United States v. Bankasi
Halkbank, a commercial bank that is majority-owned by the Government of Turkey, was charged with crimes related to its participation in a multi-year scheme to launder billions of dollars' worth of Iranian oil and natural gas proceeds in violation of U.S. sanctions against the Government of Iran and Iranian entities and persons. Halkbank moved to dismiss the indictment but the district court denied the motionThe Second Circuit held that it has jurisdiction over the instant appeal under the collateral order doctrine. The court also held that, even assuming the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) applies in criminal cases—an issue that the court need not, and did not, decide today—the commercial activity exception to FSIA would nevertheless apply to Halkbank's charged offense conduct. Therefore, the district court did not err in denying Halkbank’s motion to dismiss the Indictment. The court further concluded that Halkbank, an instrumentality of a foreign sovereign, is not entitled to immunity from criminal prosecution at common law. View "United States v. Bankasi" on Justia Law