Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in International Law
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This case involves a dispute between two law firms, each of which claims the right to represent a Salvadoran company in its efforts to stave off a transnational judgment-collection effort. Specifically, the two firms are vying to defend ALBA Petróleos de El Salvador S.E.M. de C.V. (“ALBA”) in district court from the enforcement of a $45 million default judgment obtained against Colombian narco-terrorist organizations. Marcos D. Jiménez appeared to represent ALBA. White & Case LLP moved to substitute itself as ALBA’s counsel. Both purport to represent ALBA. White & Case argued that the political-question doctrine, the act-of-state doctrine, and Venezuelan law required the district court to allow it to represent ALBA. Jiménez responded that he had the right to represent ALBA under Salvadoran law. The district court denied White & Case’s motion, holding that the issue was governed by Salvadoran law. White & Case filed an interlocutory appeal and, in the alternative, a petition for a writ of mandamus.   The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal and denied the petition for a writ of mandamus. The court wrote that it lacks appellate jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal of the denial of a third-party motion to substitute counsel. The court explained that such an appeal fails to satisfy the requirements of the collateral order doctrine because the denial of a motion to substitute counsel is effectively reviewable after final judgment and does not implicate an important issue separate from the merits of the underlying action. White & Case also does not meet the demanding standard required to obtain a writ of mandamus. View "In re ALBA Petróleos de El Salvador S.E.M. de C.V." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, several family members of a United States citizen killed in an overseas terrorist attack, appealed from the district court’s judgment dismissing their claims against the Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”) and the Palestinian Authority (“PA”) for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Government, as intervenor in accordance with 28 U.S.C. Section 2403(a) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.1(c), also appealed from that judgment. On appeal, both Plaintiffs and the Government argued that the district court erred in finding unconstitutional the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (“PSJVTA”), the statute on which Plaintiffs relied to allege personal jurisdiction over Defendants.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the PSJVTA specifically provides that the PLO and the PA “shall be deemed to have consented to personal jurisdiction” in any civil action pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 2333, irrespective of “the date of the occurrence of the act of international terrorism” at issue, upon engaging in certain forms of post-enactment conduct, namely (1) making payments, directly or indirectly, to the designees or families of incarcerated or deceased terrorists, respectively, whose acts of terror injured or killed a United States national, or (2) undertaking any activities within the United States, subject to a handful of exceptions. Thus, the court concluded that the PSJVTA’s “deemed consent” provision is inconsistent with the dictates of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. View "Fuld v. Palestine Liberation Organization" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of United States citizens injured during terror attacks in Israel and the estates or survivors of United States citizens killed in such attacks, brought an action against the Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”) and the Palestinian Authority (“PA”) pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”), seeking damages. The Second Circuit concluded on appeal that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the PLO and the PA and vacated the judgment entered against Defendants. Plaintiffs later moved to recall the mandate based on a new statute, the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018. The Second Circuit denied that motion. Congress responded with the statute now at issue, the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (“PSJVTA”). The district court concluded that Defendants had engaged in jurisdiction-triggering conduct under the statute but that the PSJVTA violated constitutional due process requirements. Plaintiffs and the Government disputed the latter conclusion, and Plaintiffs argued generally that the PSJVTA justifies recalling the mandate.   The Second Circuit denied Plaintiffs’ motion to call the mandate. The court explained that the PSJVTA provides that the PLO and the PA “shall be deemed to have consented to personal jurisdiction” in any civil ATA action if, after a specified time, those entities either (1) make payments, directly or indirectly, to the designees or families of incarcerated or deceased terrorists, respectively, whose acts of terror injured or killed a United States national, or (2) undertake any activities within the United States, subject to limited exceptions. The court concluded that the PSJVTA’s provision for “deemed consent” to personal jurisdiction is inconsistent with the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. View "Waldman v. Palestine Liberation Organization" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs in this case are American service members who were wounded, and the relatives of service members who were killed or wounded, in terrorist attacks carried out in Iraq from 2004 to 2011 by proxies of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. In 2019, victims 20 and their family members sued several Lebanese banks, alleging that the banks aided and abetted the attacks by laundering money for Hezbollah. After Plaintiffs filed suit, the United States Department of the Treasury labelled one of those banks, Jammal Trust Bank (JTB), a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. That designation prompted the Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s central bank, to liquidate JTB and acquire its assets. JTB then moved to dismiss the case against it, on the ground that it was now entitled to sovereign immunity as an instrumentality of Lebanon. The district court denied the motion, holding that a defendant is entitled to foreign sovereign immunity only if it possesses such immunity at the time suit is filed. JTB appealed.    The Second Circuit vacated. The court held that immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. Section 1604, may attach when a defendant becomes an instrumentality of a foreign sovereign after a suit is filed. Further, the court explained that it was the U.S. designation of JTB as a terrorist organization, not any attempt by Lebanon to avoid this lawsuit, that forced the bank into liquidation and public receivership. View "Bartlett v. Baasiri" on Justia Law

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In October 2021, Defendant flew from Japan to Missouri with her and Plaintiff’s child, L.T. In March 2022, Plaintiff filed a petition for the return of their child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Convention”) to have L.T. returned to Japan. The district court found L.T. was “at home” in Japan before Defendant removed the child to the United States. The district court granted Plaintiff’s petition to have L.T. returned to Japan. Defendant appealed arguing Japan cannot be L.T.’s habitual residence because Sarah was coerced into living in Japan and therefore did not intend to make Japan L.T.’s home.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held that there is no evidence of physical abuse, violence, or threats of violence in this case. Additionally, having considered the testimony and having reviewed the text message exchanges between the parties, the court did not find evidence of the type of verbal abuse or controlling behavior that would suggest that Defendant was coerced or forced into staying in Japan. Therefore, Defendant’s coercion argument on appeal is inconsistent with the district court’s factual findings, which are not clearly erroneous. View "Naoteru Tsuruta v. Sarah Tsuruta" on Justia Law

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Appellants, American victims of terror attacks in Israel, appealed from the district court’s judgment dismissing their complaint for lack of in personam jurisdiction over Appellee Bank Saderat PLC, a bank associated with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Appellants challenged the district court’s conclusion that the Appellee’s default, which occurred just after the venue was transferred from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to the Eastern District of New York, did not forfeit its objection to personal jurisdiction in New York.   The Second Circuit concluded that the district court’s judgment relied on the erroneous factual finding that the Appellee had successfully challenged personal jurisdiction in the District of Columbia before the case was transferred to New York. The court explained that the district court premised its legal conclusion – that this case was distinguishable from Mickalis Pawn Shop – on the incorrect factual finding that BSPLC’s pre-transfer, pre-default personal jurisdiction challenge in the District of Columbia was successful. The record demonstrates that BSPLC achieved no such victory. It was, therefore clear error for the district court to find otherwise and to rely on that fact for the purpose of distinguishing BSPLC’s conduct from that of the defendants in Mickalis Pawn Shop. View "Kaplan v. Bank Saderat PLC" on Justia Law

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This action represents Metabyte’s fourth attempt to hold Technicolor liable for Technicolor’s allegedly improper auction of a patent portfolio in 2009. After the French courts ruled they lacked jurisdiction in the criminal action, Metabyte brought an action in district court alleging a federal RICO claim and several state law causes of action. After the district court ruled that equitable tolling did not apply to its RICO claim as a matter of federal law, Metabyte dismissed the federal action and brought its state law claims in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The trial court granted Technicolor’s demurrer without leave to amend. Metabyte contends the trial court erred in finding equitable estoppel applies only where a plaintiff invokes remedies designed to lessen the extent of a plaintiff’s injuries or damages, with the result that Article 145 proceeding in France could not support equitable tolling because it did not provide such a remedy. Technicolor defends the trial court’s ruling but devotes more of its energies to its contentions that even if equitable tolling did apply, the order should be affirmed by applying the doctrines of issue preclusion and judicial estoppel.   The Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s ruling sustaining the demurrer on the alternate ground that Metabyte failed to adequately plead facts showing that its decision to proceed in France was objectively reasonable and subjectively in good faith. However, the court granted Metabyte leave to amend. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Metabyte v. Technicolor S.A." on Justia Law

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Two consolidated cases arise out of the Hungarian government’s confiscation of property owned by Jews during the Holocaust. The questions raised by these appeals bear on whether survivors of the Hungarian Holocaust may hale the Hungarian government and its instrumentalities into United States courts to answer for a subset of the wrongs they committed. The plaintiffs invoked the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act’s expropriation exception as a means to pierce the Hungarian state’s sovereign immunity and assert jurisdiction in federal district court. Defendants object that the exception is inapplicable. The district court dismissed the claims of the plaintiffs asserting statelessness but concluded that most of the plaintiffs asserting Czechoslovakian nationality could proceed.   The DC Circuit largely affirmed. The court concluded that the plaintiffs claiming statelessness—have not made out a recognized claim within a Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act exception. Assuming without deciding that those plaintiffs were de facto stateless at the time of the alleged takings, as they claim, the plaintiffs have nevertheless failed to identify adequate affirmative support in sources of international law for their contention that a state’s taking of a stateless person’s property amounts to a taking “in violation of international law” within the meaning of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.   The court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendants’ motions to dismiss the claims of some of the plaintiffs asserting Czechoslovakian nationality, with a few exceptions. The district court correctly determined that four of those plaintiffs had plausibly alleged they were Czechoslovakian nationals at the time of the takings. The court concluded that as for the five Lebovics sisters, the district court should have dismissed their claims. View "Rosalie Simon v. Republic of Hungary" on Justia Law

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Menasha licensed Nulogy’s software, Nulogy Solution. Years later, Deloitte reviewed Menasha’s systems in hopes of better integrating Nulogy Solution into Menasha’s other software. Deloitte and Menasha asked Nulogy to share proprietary information. Nulogy alleges that the two used this information to reverse engineer an alternative to Nulogy Solution. In 2020, Nulogy filed suit in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, alleging breach of contract by Menasha and violations of trade secrets by Menasha and Deloitte. Deloitte objected to jurisdiction in Canada.Nulogy voluntarily dismissed its trade secret claims against both companies and refiled those claims in the Northern District of Illinois under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. 1836(b). The breach of contract claims against Menasha remained pending in Canada. Menasha moved to dismiss the U.S. trade secrets litigation. Menasha’s contract with Nulogy contained a forum selection clause, identifying Ontario, Canada. Deloitte did not join that motion but filed its own motion to dismiss arguing failure to state a claim. The district court dismissed the claims against Menasha but reasoned that the forum non-conveniens doctrine required the dismissal of the entire complaint, including the claims against Deloitte.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Nulogy’s claims against Menasha but reversed the Deloitte dismissal. Deloitte has no contractual agreement with Nulogy identifying Canada as the proper forum and continues to insist that Canadian courts do not have jurisdiction. View "Nulogy Corp. v. Menasha Packaging Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellant UPS Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. was sued in the Southern District of New York and filed a third-party complaint against Appellee EVA Airways Corporation, seeking indemnification and contribution. The district court granted EVA’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. UPS appealed, arguing that EVA was subject to specific personal jurisdiction based on both New York’s long-arm statute and the Montreal Convention.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that Appellant UPS Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. was sued in the Southern District of New York and filed a third-party complaint against Appellee EVA Airways Corporation, seeking indemnification and contribution. The district court granted EVA’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. UPS now appeals, arguing that EVA was subject to specific personal jurisdiction based on both New York’s long-arm statute and the Montreal Convention. View "UPS Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. v. EVA Airways Corporation" on Justia Law