Articles Posted in International Law

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This case involved a contract dispute arising out of the lease of telecommunications equipment by GDG to the Government of Belize. In this appeal, the Government challenged the district court's denial of its motion to dismiss. The court concluded that the Government waived its sovereign immunity. In this case, the Government claimed that the express waiver of sovereign immunity contained in the contract was ineffectual because its Minister of Budget Management, who negotiated and signed the contract on its behalf, lacked the authority to waive sovereign immunity. The court explained that, despite the Minister's claimed lack of authority to bind Belize, the Government ratified the actions by fully performing its contract obligations during the lease term and paying approximately $13.5 million in forty separate payments over a period of nearly six years and spanning two different administrations. Therefore, the court reasoned that the Government's conduct intended it to be bound by the contract and affirmed the district court's denial of the Government's motion to dismiss. View "GDG Acquisitions LLC v. Government of Belize" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a United States citizen, worked as the lead trumpeter on a passenger Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The ship is a Bahamian flagged vessel with a home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Royal Caribbean, the operator of the vessel, is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. After plaintiff became ill while working for Royal Caribbean, he filed suit alleging unseaworthiness, negligence, negligence under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, and seaman’s wages and penalties. Royal Caribbean moved to compel arbitration, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal presents an issue of first impression: whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls on foreign ports constitutes “performance . . . abroad” under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 9 U.S.C. 202. The Convention makes enforceable an arbitration agreement between United States citizens if their contractual relationship “envisages performance . . . abroad.” The court affirmed the order compelling arbitration of the dispute because a seaman works abroad when traveling in international waters to or from a foreign state. View "Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd." on Justia Law

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After ending their marriage, Ex-Wife and Ex-Husband commenced proceedings in the Moscow Court for division of marital assets. In the Russian Dispute, Ex-Wife claimed that Ex-Husband was concealing and dissipating marital assets through and with the assistance of “offshore companies” around the world. In the United States, Ex-Wife sought information from Gabriella Pugh and her employer in Atlanta, Georgia - Trident - that she expected would reveal Ex-Husband’s beneficial ownership of Bahamian corporation, Tripleton. On referral, the Magistrate Judge granted Ex-Wife's ex parte Application for Judicial Assistance and authorized service of two subpoenas. In these consolidated appeals, Trident challenges the district court's order allowing discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782 (Appeal No. 15-13008 (“First Appeal”)) and imposing contempt sanctions (Appeal No. 15-15066 (“Second Appeal”)). The court agreed with the district court that the location of responsive documents and electronically stored information - to the extent a physical location can be discerned in this digital age - does not establish a per se bar to discovery under section 1782; having rejected the Extraterritoriality Argument, the court agreed with the district court that significant “circumstantial evidence” established that Trident Atlanta had “control” over responsive documents in the physical possession or custody of Trident Bahamas; and therefore the court affirmed as to the First Appeal. The court rejected Trident Atlanta's frivolous jurisdictional argument; the Contempt Order is supported by the evidence; and therefore the court affirmed the Second Appeal. View "Sergeeva v. Tripleton Int'l Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, heirs to eight civilians killed in 2003 by Bolivian troops, filed suit under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), 28 U.S.C. 1350, seeking damages and fees. In this case, plaintiffs have exhausted all of their available Bolivian remedies. They received some compensation through those remedies but not nearly as much as they claim is necessary to fully compensate them for their losses. Defendants sought certification for an interlocutory appeal on two issues: (1) whether the exhaustion requirement in section 2(b) of the TVPA bars plaintiffs’ claims, and (2) whether plaintiffs have failed to state claims for relief under the TVPA. The court answered the first certified question in the negative and affirmed the part of the district court’s order denying defendant’s motion to dismiss the TVPA claims on exhaustion grounds. The court concluded that section 2(b)’s exhaustion requirement does not bar a TVPA suit by a claimant who has successfully exhausted her remedies in the foreign state. The court exercised its discretion not to decide the second certified issue, which is actually a cluster of multiple issues involving the claims of multiple plaintiffs against the two defendants. View "Mamani v. Sanchez Berzain" on Justia Law

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The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, T.I.A.S. No. 6997, 21 U.S.T. 2517, requires signatory states to recognize written arbitration agreements “concerning a subject matter capable of settlement by arbitration.” In this appeal, the court addressed an issue of first impression for the Circuit: whether a cruise ship employee who is injured on the job, and whose employment contract contains an arbitration agreement governed by the New York Convention and Chapter 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 201, can bar arbitration by showing that high costs may prevent him from effectively vindicating his federal statutory rights in the arbitral forum. The court concluded that it need not definitely answer this question because, even if the court were to assume that plaintiff could raise a cost-based (public policy) defense in response to NCL's motion to compel arbitration, on this record he has plainly failed to establish that the costs of arbitration would preclude him from arbitrating his federal statutory claims. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court’s order compelling the parties to arbitrate. However, the court denied defendant's motion for sanctions. View "Suazo v. NCL (Bahamas), Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a negligence action against CAL, an international airline based in Trinidad and Tobago. CAL is Trinidad and Tobago’s national carrier and it is majority-owned by the Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago (Minister). At issue was whether CAL qualifies for jury immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1330. Because the court concluded that the district court correctly held that the Minister is a political subdivision of Trinidad and Tobago, CAL qualifies as an agency or instrumentality of Trinidad and Tobago, and the district court’s strike of plaintiff’s jury demand was not erroneous. Therefore, the court affirmed the order and the final judgment. View "Singh v. Caribbean Airlines Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Dominican Republic and INDRHI for breach of contract and unjust enrichment related to an irrigation project in the Dominican Republic. After the district court entered a default judgment in favor of plaintiffs, defendants moved to vacate the default judgment. The district court denied the motion and defendants appealed. While that appeal was pending, the Dominican Republic moved to vacate the default judgment for voidness under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4). The district court denied the motion on the merits, finding that the Dominican Republic had waived its sovereign immunity. The Dominican Republic appealed. In these consolidated appeals, the court concluded that the district court erred by denying the Dominican Republic’s Rule 60(b)(4) motion to vacate for voidness the default judgment entered against the foreign nation because at least one statutory exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602-1611, applies; the district court abused its discretion by denying the Dominican Republic and INDRHI’s Rule 60(b)(1) motion to vacate for excusable neglect the default judgment entered against them because the factual findings underlying the district court's decision were unsupported by the record; and therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Architectural Ingenieria Siglo XXI v. Dominican Republic" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a successful Venezuelan entrepreneur, filed an international human rights law complaint against Venezuela and two Venezuelan governmental entities, alleging that the Venezuelan government committed various torts and statutory violations against him. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3). The court concluded that, under the domestic takings rule, no violation of international law occurred for the purposes of the FSIA where the alleged takings affected a foreign country's own national and took place on that country's soil. Further, the act of state doctrine provides an additional basis to dismiss the claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Mezerhane v. Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela" on Justia Law

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The issues this appeal presented for the Eleventh Circuit's review stemmed from defendant-appellant Mark Alexander’s conviction for conspiring to sell cutting machines to companies in Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the federal conspiracy statute. Alexander was the chief executive officer and part-owner of Hyrdajet Technology, LLC, a company based in Dalton, Georgia, that manufactured waterjet cutting systems. In 2007, Hydrajet Technology shipped two waterjet cutting machines to Hydrajet Mena in Dubai, where the machines then were shipped companies in Tehran. The jury convicted Alexander on the sole count of the indictment. The district court sentenced Alexander to a term of imprisonment of 18 months, followed by a period of supervised release of three years. Alexander argued on appeal: (1) that the district court abused its discretion when it refused to permit a deposition of one of Alexander’s codefendants, a fugitive residing in Iran; (2) that the district court abused its discretion when it denied Alexander’s motion for a mistrial after a juror stated that her car had been impeded temporarily by unknown persons in the parking lot adjacent to the courthouse; and (3) that the district court erred when it addressed the jury on legal issues that arose during the trial. The Eleventh Circuit found no reversible error and affirmed. View "United States v. Alexander" on Justia Law

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Following a prolonged period of civil unrest in the Republic of Colombia, plaintiffs-appellants filed suit in the United States on behalf of over one hundred Colombian citizens killed by violent paramilitaries in the ensuing armed conflict. Plaintiffs, the legal heirs of the decedents, filed suit against numerous defendants-appellees, including a supranational coal mining company based in Alabama, its subsidiary, and several of its high-ranking corporate officers. Averring that defendants engaged the paramilitaries, known as the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), to eliminate suspected guerilla groups from around the company's mining operations in Colombia, plaintiffs contended their innocent decedents were incidental casualties of defendants' arrangement with the AUC. Claiming that Defendants aided and abetted, conspired with, and entered into an agency relationship with the AUC, plaintiffs brought suit under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 (TVPA); and Colombia's wrongful death laws. The district court found that the Supreme Court's decision in "Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.," (133 S. Ct. 1659 (2013)), required dismissal of plaintiffs' ATS claims, and the court entered summary judgment in defendants' favor on those claims. In a series of opinions, the district court also dismissed plaintiffs' TVPA claims on summary judgment. Further, the district court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs' wrongful death claims under Colombian law and denied plaintiffs' motion to vacate the district court's grants of summary judgment, which plaintiffs sought in order to proceed with their Colombian wrongful death claims. Plaintiffs appealed each of the district court's opinions and the holdings therein. After careful consideration of the parties' briefs and those filed by the amici, the record on appeal, and the relevant legal authorities, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's rulings. View "Jane Doe, et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law