Articles Posted in International Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Sudan for personal injuries suffered by victims of the al Qaeda embassy bombings and their families in Nairobi, Kenya and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The DC Circuit held that the purpose and statutory history of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) support the conclusion that the plain meaning of 28 U.S.C. 1605A(a) grants the courts jurisdiction over claims against designated state sponsors of terrorism that materially support extrajudicial killings committed by nonstate actors; plaintiffs have offered sufficient admissible evidence that establishes that Sudan's material support of al Qaeda proximately caused the 1998 embassy bombings and the district court, therefore, correctly held that plaintiffs met their burden of production under the FSIA terrorism exception; the limitation period in section 1605A(b) was not jurisdictional, and thus Sudan forfeited its affirmative defense to the Khaliq, Opati, and Aliganga actions by failing to raise it in the district court; a plaintiff proceeding under either state or federal law cannot recover punitive damages for conduct occurring prior to the enactment of section 1605A; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in failing to vacate the default judgments for "excusable neglect" and in denying Sudan's motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6). Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's findings of jurisdiction with respect to all plaintiffs and all claims; affirmed the district court's denial of vacatur; vacated all awards of punitive damages; and certified a question of state law – whether a plaintiff must be present at the scene of a terrorist bombing in order to recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) – to the D.C. Court of Appeals. View "Owens v. Republic of Sudan" on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law

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In this contract dispute between Getma and the Republic of Guinea, the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (CCJA), a court of supranational jurisdiction for Western and Central African States, set aside an award in favor of Getma. Getma sought to enforce the annulled award in the United States. The D.C. Circuit held that the CCJA is "a competent authority" for purposes of article V(1)(e) of the New York Convention, and for reasons of international comity, the court declined to second-guess a competent authority's annulment of an arbitral award absent extraordinary circumstances. Because Getma's arguments failed under this stringent standard, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court refusing to enforce the award. View "Getma International v. Republic of Guinea" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment stating that their family members were killed in the course of a U.S. drone attack in violation of international law governing the use of force, the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), and the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The district court dismissed the claims primarily based on political question grounds. The DC Circuit affirmed and held that it was not the role of the Judiciary to second-guess the determination of the Executive, in coordination with the Legislature, that the interests of the U.S. called for a particular military action in the ongoing War on Terror. In this case, El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Co. v. United States, 607 F.3d 836 (D.C. Cir. 2010), controlled the court's analysis and compelled dismissal of plaintiffs' claims. View "Bin Ali Jaber v. United States" on Justia Law

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A group of Indian nationals filed suit against the IFC, alleging that a power plant financed by the IFC caused damage to surrounding communities in Gujarat, India. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that the IFC was immune to this suit under the International Organizations Immunities Act, 22 U.S.C. 288, and did not waive immunity for this suit in its Articles of Agreement. View "Jam v. International Finance Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law

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This case stems from the Herzog family's effort to recover a valuable art collection seized during the Holocaust. On remand, the district court concluded that the family's claims against the Republic of Hungary, its museums, and a state university satisfied the expropriation exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1604, and that no other provision of the Act barred their claims. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that the Herzog family's claims to art never returned to them satisfied the Act's expropriation exception; remanded for the district court, with respect to art that was returned to the Herzog family, to determine whether the claim to recover each piece may proceed under the expropriation exception; instructed the district court to dismiss the Republic of Hungary as a defendant and to grant the Herzog family leave to amend their complaint in light of the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, Pub. L. 114–308, 130 Stat. 1524; and dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction Hungary's appeal from the denial of its motion to dismiss on exhaustion grounds. View "De Csepel v. Republic of Hungary" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her husband filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1), 2671-2680, against the government after she suffered severe injuries in her diplomatic housing when stationed overseas in Haiti. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit because plaintiffs' action fell within an exception to the FTCA's waiver of sovereign immunity for injuries arising in a foreign country. Even assuming without deciding that all overseas diplomatic housing should receive the same treatment under the FTCA as a United States embassy, plaintiffs' claim was foreclosed by circuit precedent. In Macharia v. United States, 334 F.3d 61, 69, the court concluded that the FTCA's foreign country exception applied to injuries occurring at a United States embassy. View "Galvin v. United States" on Justia Law

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The 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement established Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent, democratic and multiethnic state with two separate political subdivisions—the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After plaintiff was removed from his post in the Republika Srpska government, he filed suit against the Office of the High Representative (OHR), a body charged with overseeing parts of the Agreement's implementation on behalf of the international community. Plaintiff also filed suit against the then-High Representative Jeremy Ashdown and the current High Representative, Valentin Inzko. The district court determined that all defendants were statutorily immune to suit under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. 288 et seq. Plaintiff then sought reconsideration arguing, among other things, that Ashdown and Inzko had not complied with section 8(a) of the IOIA and so were not entitled to immunity. The DC Circuit held that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction regardless of the date Ashdown and Inzko's immunity vested. View "Zuza v. Office of the High Representative" on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law

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After an arbitral tribunal in London found the Government of Belize in breach of a settlement agreement with The Bank of Belize Limited, the tribunal ordered that Belize pay the Bank a substantial monetary award. Belize subsequently petitioned for enforcement of the award in district court. The district court granted the petition and Belize appealed, raising multiple challenges. The court accorded Belize's arguments full consideration after careful examination of the record and found them either largely asked and answered by Circuit precedent, or otherwise properly resolved by the district court. The court rejected Belize's argument that the district court's enforcement of the arbitral award violated the New York Convention because it was "contrary to the public policy of" the United States pursuant to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of June 10, 1958, art. V(2)(b), 21 U.S.T. 2517, T.I.A.S. 2517, T.I.A.S. No. 6997, 330 U.N.T.S. 3 (1970); 9 U.S.C. 207. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Belize Bank Limited v. Government of Belize" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit seeking to hold the Palestinian Authority vicariously liable for an attack of a holy site in the West Bank by an armed gunman. The court rejected plaintiffs' claim that the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause imposes personal jurisdiction restrictions that are less protective of defendants than those imposed by the Fourteenth Amendment, explaining that precedent foreclosed this claim. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of demonstrating that personal jurisdiction over the Palestinian Authority in this case would meet the requirements of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motions for jurisdictional discovery and its grant of the Palestinian Authority's motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. View "Livnat v. Palestinian Authority" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Ethiopia, alleging violation of the Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. 2510 et seq., and the Maryland common law tort of intrusion upon seclusion. Plaintiff alleged that he was tricked into downloading a computer program that allegedly enabled Ethiopia to spy on him from abroad. The district court dismissed the suit. The court concluded that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1604, withdraws jurisdiction in toto. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's intrusion-upon-seclusion claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Because the same reasoning applied with equal force to plaintiff's Wire Tap claim, the court also affirmed as to that claim. View "Doe v. Republic of Ethiopia" on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law