Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in International Law

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In 1998, Kashamu and others were charged with conspiracy to import heroin, 21 U.S.C. 963. Kashamu, refusing to appear (which would have required his presence in the U.S.), insisted that the crimes were committed by his dead brother. He surfaced in England six months later, beginning a four‐year unsuccessful extradition effort. Later Kashamu moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that collateral estoppel barred his prosecution. The Seventh Circuit denied that motion, reasoning that the magistrate in extradition had not ruled on Kashamu’s guilt, but had only been unconvinced regarding Kashamu’s identity. Three years later Kashamu unsuccessfully sought mandamus to dismiss the indictment on speedy‐trial grounds. The Seventh Circuit concluded that he had forfeited that right by remaining a fugitive. In 2015, after his election to the Nigerian Senate, Kashamu filed suit, claiming to have information that U.S. authorities were planning to abduct him in Nigeria. He cited the Mansfield Amendment, 22 U.S.C. 2291(c)(1), which states that “no officer or employee of the United States may directly effect an arrest in any foreign country as part of any foreign police action with respect to narcotics control efforts.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal, holding that the Amendment does not create a private right of action. Kashamu’s suit also confused a lawful attempt by U.S. agents to arrest him on a provisional warrant (a first step toward extradition) in coordination with local law enforcement, with an attempted abduction. . View "Kashamu v. Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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Hernandez and Cardoso, citizens of Mexico, have two children: A.E., born in 2008, and M.S., born in 2002. Cardoso left Mexico with the children in 2014, allegedly to escape Hernandez's abuse and protect the children. Hernandez learned of Cardoso’s location in Chicago and sought the return of A.E. under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Cardoso agreed to return M.S. to Hernandez, but refused to return A.E. The district court heard witnesses and took testimony from the child, in chambers, outside the presence of counsel or the parties. The court found that Cardoso testified credibly that Hernandez hit her in the presence of A.E., intending that A.E. witness the abuse of his mother. The judge “observed a significant change in the demeanor of A.E. when the child discussed Hernandez, the domestic violence and the possible return to Hernandez’s custody.” The court found clear and convincing evidence of a grave risk of physical or psychological harm to A.E. if returned to Hernandez’s custody. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding the credibility determination sound. Repeated physical and psychological abuse of a child’s mother by the child’s father, in the presence of the child, is likely to create a risk of psychological harm to the child. View "Hernandez v. Cardoso" on Justia Law

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The 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. 1701–07, authorizes the President to: [I]investigate, block during the pendency of an investigation, regulate, direct and compel, nullify, void, prevent or prohibit, any acquisition, holding, withholding, use, transfer, withdrawal, transportation, importation or exportation of, or dealing in, or exercising any right, power, or privilege with respect to, or transactions involving, any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. In 2003-2005, President Bush invoked the IEEPA to issue Executive Orders “Blocking Property of Persons Undermining Democratic Processes or Institutions in Zimbabwe.” The Office of Foreign Asset Control enacted sanctions, under which property belonging to Zimbabwean Special Designated Nationals (SDNs), located within the United States, was “blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in.” Turner was convicted of willfully conspiring, with Prince Ben Israel, to provide services for Zimbabwean SDNs by lobbying U.S. officials, arranging for Zimbabwean officials to meet U.S. officials, and assisting Zimbabwean officials in obtaining travel visas. They were promised payment of $3,405,000. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding the district court’s admission into evidence a “Consulting Agreement” as an authenticated coconspirator statement, jury instructions regarding “willfulness” and unanimity, and interactions with the jury after deliberations began. After reviewing classified information, the court found no violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. View "United States v. Turner" on Justia Law

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Deb contracted with an Indian moving company, Allied Lemuir, to move his belongings from Calcutta, India to St. John’s, Canada, but the company demanded more money and his belongings never left India. After filing suit in Canada, Deb sued two U.S. companies, SIRVA and Allied Van Lines, in Indiana, asserting a “joint venture” theory. The district court dismissed, concluding that U.S. federal courts were not the proper venue for his claim. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The district court did not hold the defendants to their burden of demonstrating that India was an available and adequate forum for the litigation, The parties never addressed Canada as a forum for resolution of the dispute. View "Deb v. Sirva Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1997 Hamas suicide bombers blew themselves up on a crowded Jerusalem pedestrian mall. The grievously injured included eight U.S. citizens who filed a civil action against the Islamic Republic of Iran for its role in providing material support to the attackers. Iran was subject to suit as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(7). A district judge entered a $71.5 million default judgment. Iran did not pay. Among other efforts, the plaintiffs sought to execute on ancient Persian artifacts: the Persepolis, Chogha Mish, and Oriental Institute Collections, all in the possession of the University of Chicago; and the Herzfeld Collection, split between the University and Chicago’s Field Museum. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district judge’s conclusion that attachment and execution were unavailable under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, 28 U.S.C. 1610, which permits holders of terrorism-related judgments to execute on assets that are “blocked” by executive order under certain international sanctions provisions. The assets are not blocked by existing executive order. Nor does section 1610(a) apply. That provision permits execution on a foreign state’s property “used for a commercial activity in the United States.” The foreign state, Iran, did not put the artifacts to any commercial use. View "Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law
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For the first seven years of A.M.’s life, he lived in Illinois with his mother, Martinez. A.M.’s father, Cahue, lived nearby. The two never married, but had a private arrangement, never formalized through a court order, for custody and visitation rights. In 2013, Martinez, a Mexican citizen who worked at the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, moved to Mexico and took A.M. with her. About a year later, Cahue persuaded Martinez to send A.M. to Illinois for a visit; he then refused to return A.M. to Mexico. Martinez petitioned for his return under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, implemented by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 22 U.S.C. 9001. The district court found that Illinois remained A.M.’s habitual residence and dismissed Martinez’s petition. The Seventh Circuit reversed and ordered the child’s return to Mexico. At all relevant times, Martinez had sole custody of A.M. under Illinois law, while Cahue had no right of custody either under Illinois law or the Convention; only Martinez’s intent mattered, and Martinez wanted A.M.’s habitual residence transferred to Mexico. View "Martinez v. Cahue" on Justia Law

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Noboa, while living in Illinois, booked a trip to Mexico by using the Orbitz website. In the lobby of the Barcelo hotel, she booked an eco-tour, operated by Rancho. During the tour, the all-terrain vehicle in which Noboa was riding overturned. She died as a result of her injuries. The district court dismissed her estate's suit against Barcelo and Rancho, finding neither company subject to jurisdiction in Illinois. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that Noboa's death was connected to Illinois through a causal chain that began with her booking the trip while in Illinois. View "Noboa v. Barcelo Corp. Empresaria, SA" on Justia Law

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In one of two consolidated purported class actions, Baumeister bought a ticket from Lufthansa for flights from Stuttgart to Munich, and then from Munich to San Francisco. The first flight, as indicated on his itinerary, was to be flown not by Lufthansa but by a regional German airline, Augsburg. That flight was cancelled. Lufthansa arranged substitute air transportation, but Baumeister arrived more than 17 hours after he was originally scheduled to arrive. European Union regulation EU 261 specifies damages for certain cancelled or delayed flights into and out of the European Union. Lufthansa’s contract with its passengers incorporates EU 261. In U.S. district court, Baumeister argued that the airline was contractually obligated to pay damages. That court dismissed, finding that the bridge carriers in both suits (Augsburg), not the airline that sold the tickets (Lufthansa) were liable for any damages. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the German regulatory body charged with enforcing EU 261 dismissed Baumeister’s claim after Lufthansa’s counsel notified it that Lufthansa had not operated the flight between Stuttgart and Munich. Similarly, in the companion case, the court rejected theories of contract and agency law, where EU 261 would not apply directly. View "Baumeister v. Deutsche Lufthansa AG" on Justia Law

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VLM, a Montreal-based supplier, sold frozen potatoes to IT in Illinois. After nine successful transactions, IT encountered financial difficulty and failed to pay for the next nine shipments. Invoices sent after delivery included a provision purporting to make IT liable for collection-related attorney’s fees if it breached the contracts. VLM sued; the deadline for an answer passed. The court entered a default. On defendants' motion, the court vacated the default as to IT’s president only. All three defendants then filed answers, contesting liability for attorney’s fees. The judge applied the Illinois Uniform Commercial Code and found that the fee provision had been incorporated into the contract. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods applied. On remand, the judge applied the Convention and held that the fee provision was not part of the contracts and that IT could benefit from this ruling, despite the prior entry of default. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. IT never expressly assented to the attorney’s fees provision in VLM’s trailing invoices, so under the Convention that term did not become a part of the contracts. VLM waived its right to rely on the default by failing to raise the issue until its reply brief on remand. View "VLM Food Trading Int'l, Inc. v. Ill. Trading Co." on Justia Law

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Mother and father, Mexican citizens, dated in 2001-2002. In 2002, mother gave birth to a child, D.S., in Mexico. Although mother has had physical custody of D.S., father played an active part in the child’s life. In 2013, mother and D.S. moved to Chicago. Father sought D.S.’s return to Mexico under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to which Mexico and the U.S. are parties (International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 22 U.S.C. 9001). Once the child is in a participating country, local courts are empowered to resolve any questions about custody, support, or other family law matters. The Seventh Circuit held that the Hague Convention is no exception to the general rule, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1, that an issue about foreign law is a question of law, not fact, for purposes of litigation in federal court and that father had the necessary custodial right over D.S. at the time when mother refused to permit his return to Mexico. Because D.S.’s habitual residence is Mexico, mother’s retention of D.S. is wrongful under the Convention. The district court had adequate reason to refuse to defer to D.S.’s indications that he prefers to stay in the U.S. View "Salazar-Garcia v. Galvan-Pinelo" on Justia Law