Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Law
Okere v. United States
The Okeres, U.S. citizens, are trying to get their eight-year-old son from Nigeria to the United States. They applied for a “certificate of identity,” which validates the identity of a person living abroad who purports to be a U.S. citizen but has not presented enough evidence of citizenship to obtain a passport, 8 U.S.C. 1503(b). They sued, asserting that, after their son finally received a travel document from the State Department, he has been prevented from boarding a flight to the U.S. because the Consulate General refused to verify the certificate’s authenticity with the airlines with which they had booked flights for their son.The district court dismissed the Okeres’ complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Okeres identified no legal authority compelling the Consulate General to verify the authenticity of the certificate to the airlines. None of the federal statutes the Okeres invoked confers jurisdiction. Nor do any of the provisions identified in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual create individual rights or impose enforceable duties on a Consulate General when issuing a certificate of identity. The court stated that its decision was “most unsatisfying, for it is impossible to read the parties’ briefs without concluding that something else is going on here.” View "Okere v. United States" on Justia Law
Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC
An aircraft engine caught fire during testing in South Carolina. Rolls-Royce had manufactured and sold the engine to Boeing for incorporation into a 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Boeing demanded compensation from Rolls-Royce. In 2017, the companies settled for $12 million. Rolls-Royce then sought indemnification from Servotronics, the manufacturer of a valve. Under a long-term agreement between Rolls-Royce and Servotronics, any dispute not resolved through negotiation or mediation must be submitted to binding arbitration in England, under the rules of the Chartered Institute of Arbiters (CIArb). Rolls-Royce initiated arbitration with the CIArb. Servotronics filed an ex parte application in the Northern District of Illinois, seeking a subpoena compelling Boeing to produce documents for use in the London arbitration. The subpoena was issued, then quashed.The Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of Rolls-Royce. A district court may order a person within the district to give testimony or produce documents “for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal,” 28 U.S.C. 1782(a). Section 1782(a) does not authorize the district court to compel discovery for use in a private foreign arbitration. View "Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC" on Justia Law
Yeatts v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc.
Biomet employed Yeatts in a role that included implementing compliance policies. In 2008, Biomet terminated its Brazilian distributor Prosintese, run by Galindo, after learning that Galindo had bribed healthcare providers, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 78dd-1. Prosintese still owned Brazilian registrations for Biomet’s products. Biomet could not quickly obtain new registrations, and, in 2009, agreed to cooperate with Prosintese and Galindo “to implement the new Biomet distributors.” A distributor that replaced Prosintese hired Galindo as a consultant. Yeatts communicated with Galindo in that new role. Biomet entered into a 2012 Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the Department of Justice, which required that Biomet engage an independent corporate compliance monitor. In 2013, Biomet received an anonymous whistleblower tip that Biomet continued to work with Galindo. Biomet informed the DOJ and the Monitor, terminated Yeatts, and included Yeatts on a Restricted Parties List. Biomet entered a second DOJ agreement that references Yeatts’s interactions with Galindo and paid a criminal penalty of $17.4 million. In Yeatts's defamation suit, the court granted Biomet summary judgment because Biomet’s statement that Yeatts posed a compliance risk was an opinion that could not be proven false and presented no defamatory imputation. Yeatts could not establish that Biomet made the statement with malice, so Biomet was protected by the qualified privilege of common interest and the public interest privilege. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, agreeing that inclusion of Yeatts on the Restricted Parties List conveyed no defamatory imputation of objectively verifiable or testable fact. View "Yeatts v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Venckiene v. United States
After a hearing under 18 U.S.C. 3184, a magistrate certified Venckiene as extraditable to Lithuania for the prosecution of alleged offenses arising from a custody battle over Venckiene’s niece. The Secretary of State granted the extradition. Venckiene obtained a temporary stay and sought habeas corpus relief, claiming that the magistrate failed to apply the political offense exception in the extradition treaty and erred in finding probable cause that she was guilty of the offenses. Venckiene and others alleged political and judicial corruption in connection with her niece’s allegations of sexual abuse and claimed that the allegations evolved into protests that culminated in the formation of a new political party and the suspicious deaths of four people, including Venckiene's brother. Venckiene claimed that extradition violated her due process rights and that she might be subject to “particularly atrocious procedures or punishments” in Lithuania. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. While there is a political dimension to Venckiene's actions, they do not qualify as relative political offenses, which require a finding of “violent political disturbance or uprising.” Venckiene’s actions were not objectively those of someone furthering a political agenda; a video and transcript support the charges that Venckiene attempted to prevent law enforcement from entering her home and seizing her niece to execute a court order. Without specific evidence of atrocious conditions that Venckiene is likely to experience if extradited, blocking this extradition after the executive has approved it would go beyond the role of the court in the extradition process. View "Venckiene v. United States" on Justia Law
Noeller v. Wojdylo
Carrillo was involved in an extramarital relationship with Noeller. Carrillo’s family reported that Noeller called Carrillo, accused her of seeing someone else, and threatened her life; Noeller later came to her mother’s Mexico City house, where he shot and killed her. Noeller maintains that he ended their relationship after finding out about her family’s affiliation with the Los Pepes gang and Zetas drug cartel. He says that after the murder, he received warnings that Carrillo’s mother had hired hitmen to kill him. Noeller fled for the U.S. with his wife and children, who are U.S. citizens. Noeller's family members provided affidavits describing incidents after he left, in which gang members came to their homes looking for Noeller, threatened them, and beat them. During removal proceedings, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i), Noeller sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. Immigration judges twice denied his applications. Noeller’s BIA appeal was pending when Mexico submitted its extradition request. Noeller challenged the warrant issued in Mexico by an “Amparo proceeding,” which is “similar to habeas corpus ... to review and annul unconstitutional judicial decisions.” Noeller claims that the court in Mexico suspended the warrant. Mexico’s government contends that the original arrest warrant remains enforceable. The district court granted extradition. Noeller sought habeas corpus relief. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of relief. Mexico submitted a valid request for extradition, which U.S. courts must honor. Noeller’s challenges to that request are “beyond the narrow role for courts in the extradition process.” View "Noeller v. Wojdylo" on Justia Law
Kemper v. Deutsche Bank AG
In 2009, U.S. Army Specialist Schaefer was killed by a roadside bomb while serving a tour of duty in Iraq. Those directly responsible for such attacks are often unidentifiable or beyond the reach of a court’s personal jurisdiction. Secondary actors, such as the organizations that fund the terrorists, are often amorphous. Despite Congress’s effort to make state sponsors of terrorism accountable in U.S. courts (28 U.S.C. 1605A) any resulting judgment may be uncollectible. Spc. Schaefer’s mother claimed that the bomb that killed her son was a signature Iranian weapon that traveled from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to Hezbollah to Iraqi militias, who then placed it in the ground and that Deutsche Bank, a German entity with U.S. affiliates, is responsible for her son’s death under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. 2333. She argued that the Bank joined an Iranian conspiracy to commit acts of terror when it instituted procedures to evade U.S. sanctions and facilitate Iranian banking transactions. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of her suit, which “failed to plead facts that plausibly indicated that Deutsche Bank’s actions caused her son’s death.” The Bank’s conduct was not “violent” or “dangerous to human life” as the ATA requires, nor did it display the terroristic intent. To the extent Deutsche Bank joined any conspiracy, it joined only a conspiracy to avoid sanctions, distinct from any of Iran’s terrorism-related goals. View "Kemper v. Deutsche Bank AG" on Justia Law
Fischer v. Magyar Allamvasutak Zrt.
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
Armada (Singapore) PTE Ltd. v. Amcol International Corp.
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
Vexol S.A. de C.V. v. Berry Plastics Corp.
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
Heraeus Kulzer GMBH v. Biomet, Inc.
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