Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Trade
Kashamu v. Norgle
In 1998 Kashamu, a dual citizen of Nigeria and Benin, was charged as the leader of a conspiracy to import and distribute heroin. Kashamu never entered the U.S. His location was unknown. The government did not ask that he be tried in absentia. Eleven other defendants pleaded guilty; one was convicted. Months later, Kashamu was arrested in England. There were two unsuccessful extradition proceedings. After the 2003 ruling, Kashamu left England. Six years later, in Chicago district court, he moved to dismiss the indictment based on the English judge's findings, concerning possible confusion between Kashamu and his brother. The Seventh Circuit rejected his arguments. Kashamu remains in Nigeria, a businessman and a ruling party politician. Although there is an extradition treaty, the government has made no effort to extradite him. In 2014 Kashamu sought to dismiss on the grounds that the court has no personal jurisdiction because he has never been in the U.S. and that the Sixth Amendment speedy-trial clause bars prosecution. The Seventh Circuit again disagreed. Even if Kashamu has constitutional rights, they are not violated. The court has no current jurisdiction, but should he come to the U.S., he can be tried. Denial of a motion to dismiss on speedy-trial grounds is a nonappealable interlocutory order; until proceedings are complete, the causes and duration of the delay, the defendant’s responsibility for it, and the harm from the delay, cannot be determined. At any time “he had only to show up” to obtain resolution of his guilt or innocence. View "Kashamu v. Norgle" on Justia Law
Fellowes Inc. v. Changzhou Xinrui Fellowes Office Equip. Co.
Fellowes filed a breach-of-contract suit against Changzou Fellowes, a business established in China, under the international diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. 1332(a)(2). Without discussing subject-matter jurisdiction, the district court entered a preliminary injunction in favor of Fellowes, despite the court’s assumption that Changzhou Fellowes had not been served with process. The Seventh Circuit vacated, reasoning that diversity jurisdiction is proper only if Changzhou Fellowes has its own citizenship, independent of its investors or members. Deciding whether a business enterprise based in a foreign nation should be treated as a corporation for the purpose of section 1332 can be difficult. Given the parties’ agreement that Changzhou Fellowes is closer to a limited liability company than to any other business structure in the U.S., it does not have its own citizenship and it does have the Illinois citizenship of its member Hong Kong Fellowes, which prevents litigation under the diversity jurisdiction. View "Fellowes Inc. v. Changzhou Xinrui Fellowes Office Equip. Co." on Justia Law
BouMatic LLC v. Idento Operations BV
Idento makes robotic milking machines in the Netherlands. BouMatic, LLC, based in Wisconsin, entered into an agreement for purchasing and reselling those machines in Belgium. BouMatic claims that Idento breached the agreement by selling direct to at least one of BouMatic’s Belgian customers and by failing to provide parts and warranty service. The district court dismissed, ruling that commercial transactions in the European Union do not expose Idento to litigation in Wisconsin even though BouMatic has its headquarters there, the parties exchanged drafts between Wisconsin and the Netherlands, and Idento shipped one machine to Wisconsin. After exploring the nature of the business entities, the Seventh Circuit vacated for consideration of personal jurisdiction in light of the contract language. Litigants cannot confer subject matter jurisdiction by agreement or omission, but personal jurisdiction is a personal right that a litigant may waive or forfeit. View "BouMatic LLC v. Idento Operations BV" on Justia Law
Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp.
Motorola and its foreign subsidiaries buy LCD panels and incorporate them into cellphones. They alleged that foreign LCD panel manufacturers violated section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, by fixing prices. Only about one percent of the panels were bought by Motorola in the U.S. The other 99 percent were bought by, paid for, and delivered to foreign subsidiaries; 42 percent of the panels were bought by subsidiaries and incorporated into products that were shipped to Motorola in the U.S. for resale. The other 57 percent were incorporated into products that were sold abroad and never became U.S. domestic commerce, subject to the Sherman Act. The district judge ruled that Motorola’s claim regarding the 42 percent was barred by 15 U.S.C. 6a(1)(A): the Act “shall not apply to conduct involving trade or commerce (other than import trade or import commerce) with foreign nations unless such conduct has a direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect on trade or commerce which is not trade or commerce with foreign nations, or on import trade or import commerce with foreign nations.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed, reasoning that rampant extraterritorial application of U.S. law “creates a serious risk of interference with a foreign nation’s ability independently to regulate its own commercial affairs.” View "Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp." on Justia Law
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm. v. Herndon
A number of suits have challenged the accuracy of the warning label on Pradaxa, a prescription blood-thinning drug manufactured by Boehringer. The litigation is in the discovery stage. The district judge presiding over the litigation imposed sanctions on Boehringer for discovery abuse. Boehringer sought a writ of mandamus quashing the sanctions, which included fines, totaling almost $1 million and also ordered that plaintiffs’ depositions of 13 Boehringer employees, all of whom work in Germany be conducted at “a place convenient to the [plaintiffs] and [to] the defendants’ [Boehringer’s] United States counsel,” presumably in the United States. The parties had previously agreed to Amsterdam as the location. The Seventh Circuit rescinded the order with respect to the depositions but otherwise denied mandamus. View "Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm. v. Herndon" on Justia Law
GEA Group AG v. Baker
In 2004 GEA, a German company, agreed to sell a subsidiary, DNK, to Flex‐N‐Gate, a U.S. manufacturer for €430 million. The contract required arbitration of all disputes in Germany. The sale did not close. GEA initiated arbitration before the Arbitral Tribunal of the German Institution of Arbitration. The arbitration was pending in 2009 when GEA filed suit in an Illinois federal district court, against Flex‐N‐Gate and its CEO, Khan, alleging that the defendants had fraudulently induced it to enter into the contract; that Khan stripped the company of assets so that it would be unable to pay any arbitration award; and that Khan was Flex‐N‐Gate’s alter ego. GEA then asked the district judge to stay proceedings, including discovery. The judge declined to stay discovery. GEA filed a notice of appeal after the German arbitration panel awarded GEA damages and costs totaling $293.3 million. The Seventh Circuit dismissed GEA’s appeal as moot, but the German Higher Regional Court in vacated the arbitration award. GEA renewed its motion. The district judge again denied the stay, stating that he was unsure how the arbitration would affect the case before him and didn’t want to wait to find out. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The district judge then imposed a stay, which it later lifted for the limited purpose of allowing Khan to conduct discovery aimed at preserving evidence that might be germane to GEA’s claims against him in the district court suit. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, first holding that it had appellate jurisdiction.View "GEA Group AG v. Baker" on Justia Law
Johnson Controls, Inc. v. Edman Controls, Inc.
Johnson Controls, a Wisconsin manufacturer of building management systems and HVAC equipment, and Edman Controls entered into an agreement giving Edman exclusive rights to distribute Johnson’s products in Panama. In 2009, Johnson breached the agreement by attempting to sell its products directly to Panamanian developers, circumventing Edman. Edman invoked the agreement’s arbitration clause. The arbitrator concluded that Johnson had breached the agreement and that Edman was entitled to damages. Johnson sought to vacate or modify the arbitral award, challenging the way in which the award took account of injuries to Edman’s subsidiaries and the arbitrator’s alleged refusal to follow Wisconsin law. The district court ruled in Edman’s favor. The Seventh Circuit affirmed and upheld the district court’s award of attorney fees. View "Johnson Controls, Inc. v. Edman Controls, Inc." on Justia Law
JPMorgan Chase & Co., N.A. v. Asia Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd.
In 1996 Beloit agreed to build high-speed paper-making machines for Indonesian paper companies. Two of the companies executed promissory notes in favor of Beloit reflecting a principal indebtedness of $43.8 million. The paper companies guaranteed the notes; Beloit assigned them to JPMorgan in exchange for construction financing. The machines were delivered in 1998 but did not run as specified. In 2000 the parties settled claims pertaining to the machines but preserved obligations under the notes. JPMorgan sued for nonpayment. The district court held that warranty-based claims were foreclosed by the settlement and that other defenses lacked merit; it awarded JPMorgan $53 million. After the appeal was filed, JPMorgan issued citations to discover assets. Although the companies raised an international conflict-of-law question, the district court ordered compliance with the citations. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The settlement waived implied warranty defenses and counterclaims. The fraud defense is also mostly barred; to the extent it is not, the evidence was insufficient to survive summary judgment. The court also rejected defenses that the notes lacked consideration; that the notes were issued for a “special purpose” and were not intended to be repaid; and that JPMorgan is not a holder in due course. The discovery order was not appealable. View "JPMorgan Chase & Co., N.A. v. Asia Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd." on Justia Law
Vance v. Rumsfeld
American citizen-civilians, employees of a private Iraqi security services company, alleged that they were detained and tortured by U.S. military personnel while in Iraq in 2006, then released without being charged with a crime. Plaintiffs sought damages and to recover seized personal property. The district court denied motions to dismiss. In 2011, the Seventh Circuit affirmed in part, holding that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged Secretary Rumsfeld's personal responsibility and that he is not entitled to qualified immunity. On rehearing en banc, the Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that a common-law claim for damages should not be created. The Supreme Court has never created or even favorably mentioned a nonstatutory right of action for damages on account of conduct that occurred outside of the U.S. The Military Claims Act and the Foreign Claims Act indicate that Congress has decided that compensation should come from the Treasury rather than from federal employees and that plaintiffs do not need a common-law damages remedy in order to achieve some recompense. Even such a remedy existed, Rumsfeld could not be held liable. He did not arrest plaintiffs, hold them incommunicado, refuse to speak with the FBI, subject them to loud noises, or threaten them while they wore hoods. View "Vance v. Rumsfeld" on Justia Law
H-D MI, LLC v. Hellenic Duty Free Shops, S.A.
Harley-Davidson had a licensing agreement with a subsidiary of DFS and received notice that the companies had merged. Harley-Davidson did not exercise its right to terminate, but later discovered that DFS had sold unauthorized products bearing the trademark to an unapproved German retailer. Harley-Davidon sent an e-mail saying that it believed DFS was in breach of contract and that it was suspending approval of products. DFS responded in kind. Harley-Davidson then attempted to recover unpaid royalties and to secure from DFS information required under the agreement. DFS refused these attempts, but submitted production samples for a new collection. Harley-Davidson reminded DFS of the termination. DFS advised Harley-Davidson that it had “wrongfully repudiated the License Agreement” and that DFS planned to act unilaterally in accordance with its own views of rights and obligations. The district court granted injunctive relief against DFS, which was attempting to litigate the dispute in Greece. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Harley-Davidson made strong showings that DFS was deliberately breaching a licensing agreement and “has tried numerous legal twists and contortions to try to avoid the legal consequences.” The court rejected an argument that the agreement provision consenting to personal jurisdiction in Wisconsin was not binding on DFS. View "H-D MI, LLC v. Hellenic Duty Free Shops, S.A." on Justia Law