Articles Posted in International Law

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In 2010, Hungarian survivors of the Holocaust filed a purported class action in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that in 1944 the Hungarian national railway transported Fischer and up to 500,000 other Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the plaintiffs had neither exhausted remedies that may be available in Hungary nor established that the national railway is engaged in commercial activity in the U.S., as necessary to support the exercise of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) expropriation exception. In 2016, Kellner, a member of the putative class, filed her own complaint against the Hungarian national railway in Budapest’s Capital Regional Court, which dismissed the case. In 2017, the district court received a “Motion to Reinstate” based on “class member” Kellner’s efforts to exhaust remedies in Hungary. The district court rejected the motion: [A]lthough there was a proposed class in this case and Kellner may have been a putative class member, … No class was certified …. Kellner ... is not a named party … and lacks any standing.” The Seventh Circuit held that it lacked authority to consider an appeal from a party not subject to the order sought to be challenged. View "Fischer v. Magyar Allamvasutak Zrt." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Singaporean shipping company, entered into shipping contracts with an Indian mining company. The Indian company breached those contracts. Plaintiff believes that American businesses that were the largest stockholders in the Indian company engaged in racketeering activity to divest the Indian company of assets to thwart its attempts to recover damages for the breach. Plaintiff filed suit under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c). While the case was pending, the Supreme Court decided RJR Nabisco v. European Community, holding that “[a] private RICO plaintiff … must allege and prove a domestic injury to its business or property.” The district court granted the American defendants judgment on the RICO claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff’s claimed injury—harm to its ability to collect on its judgment and other claims—was economic; economic injuries are felt at a corporation’s principal place of business, and Plaintiff’s principal place of business is in Singapore. The court noted that the district court allowed a maritime fraudulent transfer claim to go forward. View "Armada (Singapore) PTE Ltd. v. Amcol International Corp." on Justia Law

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Vexol, a Mexican company that provides plastic and shrink wrap to end users in Mexico, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana against Berry Plastics, a Delaware corporation that allegedly does business in Mexico through its subsidiary, Pliant, Vexol alleged that Pliant sold shrink wrap to Vexol and that Vexol’s customers complained about the quality and returned their purchases to Vexol. Vexol sought to return the unsatisfactory product to Pliant, which would not issue a refund, but claimed that Vexol owed it money pursuant to a fabricated “pagare,” the Mexican equivalent of a promissory note. Pliant allegedly caused another Mexican entity, Aspen, to enforce the pagare in the Mexican Mercantile Court. Vexol alleged that Pliant also filed a criminal complaint against Vexol for fraud. Vexol claimed violation of Indiana tort law and Mexico’s Federal Civil Code. Citing choice‐of‐law principles, the district court dismissed with prejudice the Indiana law claims and dismissed without prejudice the Mexican law claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The complaint "plainly" does not describe anything that Berry did in Mexico. Plaintiffs alleging fraud must state particularly “the who, what, when, where, and how” of the circumstances. Vexol’s complaint satisfied none of those requirements. View "Vexol S.A. de C.V. v. Berry Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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Heraeus sought to obtain discovery from Biomet to use in its trade secret misappropriation case against Biomet in Germany, citing 28 U.S.C. 1782, which allows a party to file a petition in a federal district court to obtain discovery for use in a foreign proceeding. Biomet produced discovery subject to stipulated protective orders that limited Heraeus’s ability to use or disseminate materials outside of the German proceeding and the section 1782 action. The German court ruled in Heraeus’s favor and enjoined Biomet from manufacturing or distributing products developed using the misappropriated information. That court quoted several documents that were produced in the 1782 proceeding, subject to the stipulated protective orders. Suspicious that Biomet was continuing to sell products made with Heraeus’s trade secrets outside of Germany, Heraeus brought actions in other European countries and moved to modify the section 1782 protective orders, to exclude the documents that the German court relied upon and/or to restrict Biomet’s internal use of those documents. The Seventh Circuit upheld the denial of the motions, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction with respect to the first two denials because Heraeus failed to timely appeal those denials. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the third request to impose restrictions on Biomet’s internal use of the documents it produced. View "Heraeus Kulzer GMBH v. Biomet, Inc." on Justia Law

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The “Old Mill” in Belgrade, Serbia, was confiscated, allegedly from plaintiffs' ancestors, in 1945, without compensation, and later sold to private developers. Prigan now holds title and, with Carlson, renovated the Old Mill. The property is now a four‐star Radisson Blu Hotel complex. Carlson is the licensor of the Radisson Blu brand and participates in the hotel’s management. Ten years before the hotel's construction, plaintiffs began trying to recover their rights over the Old Mill. In 2009 a Serbian court annulled the declaration that plaintiffs’ family were enemies of the state. They sued Carlson, alleging trespass, conversion, conspiracy, unjust enrichment, constructive trust, and violation of the Minnesota Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Carlson agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the Serbian Restitution Agency, which was empowered by Serbia's 2011 “Law on Property Restitution and Compensation” to determine rights in the property, including improvements. The judge dismissed the suit on the ground of forum non conveniens. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the plaintiffs produced no documentary evidence that they have inherited the land and that the dispute is appropriate for the Serbian Agency . Although one plaintiff is an American citizen and a resident of Illinois, the other is a citizen of Canada but a resident of Paris; no aspect of the dispute has any relation to Illinois. View "Veljkovic v. Carlson Hotels, Inc." on Justia Law

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Neto, a Brazilian businessman, entered into a trust agreement with Wells Fargo in 2009 to purchase an aircraft for his business. Wells Fargo borrowed $6 million from 1st Source, pledging the aircraft as collateral. Neto signed a personal guarantee. Three years later, Brazilian tax authorities seized the plane. After Neto stopped paying, 1st Source sued him in an Indiana district court, then filed another lawsuit in Brazil, where the plane resides. Brazilian law permits prejudgment attachment of assets, so that Neto would have only three days to pay the debt after being served with a summons; if he failed to comply the court could seize as many assets as necessary to guarantee payment. Neto unsuccessfully sought to enjoin the Brazilian lawsuit on grounds that the guarantee did not permit duplicative litigation and that the Brazilian litigation was “oppressive.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of Neto’s subsequent motion for an emergency injunction pending appeal, finding that Neto had not shown a sufficient likelihood of prevailing on his claim that the Brazilian litigation was improper. The guarantee Neto signed proves that 1st Source reserves the option to sue Neto for the debt, “in any jurisdiction where the aircraft may be located.” He did not provide sufficient information about the Brazilian lawsuit to establish that it is duplicative of the Indiana suit. View "1st Source Bank v. Neto" on Justia Law

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In 2003, a 7-year-old Israeli girl was killed, her 3-year-old, American-citizen sister permanently disabled, and six Israeli members of their family were injured emotionally, when their minivan was shot up on a Jerusalem highway by members of Palestine Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group supported by the government of Iran. The survivors sued Iran under the Antiterrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. 2333, and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605A, eventually obtaining a $67 million default judgment. The plaintiffs issued federal and state subpoenas, seeking an order directing foreign parent banks to reveal Iranian assets held in any of their worldwide branches. The Japanese bank has branches in more than 40 countries; the French bank has branches in 75 countries. The banks provided the information only with respect to their 17 U.S. branches, which held no Iranian assets. The banks sought to quash the subpoenas. Plaintiffs argued that personal jurisdiction was irrelevant for enforcing subpoenas under Rule 45. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, in favor of the banks. To be entitled to use the federal district court in Chicago to obtain the information plaintiffs sought, they had to prove personal jurisdiction over the banks. The banks are not incorporated or headquartered in the U.S. and the subpoenas were not tailored to the banks’ U.S. presence or activities. View "Leibovitich v. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ" on Justia 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