Articles Posted in International Law

by
Following remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit held that this case was not a garden variety excessive force case against a federal law enforcement officer. Plaintiffs alleged that a law enforcement agent used deadly force without justification against a fifteen year old boy, violating the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, when they fatally shot him across the United States-Mexico border. At issue was whether federal courts have the authority to craft an implied damages action for alleged constitutional violations in this case under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999 (1971). The court noted that no federal statute authorizes a damages action by a foreign citizen injured on foreign soil by a federal law enforcement officer under these circumstances. The court held that the transnational aspect of the facts presented a "new context" under Bivens, and numerous "special factors" counseled against federal courts' interference with the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the case. View "Hernandez v. Mesa, Jr." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's grave-risk defense in plaintiff's action seeking return of their child to Mexico pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The court rejected defendant's claims that the district court improperly used a heightened standard in making its rulings. The court held that the record demonstrated that the district court's reference to "objective evidence" did not compel ruling that the findings of fact were "based on a misconception of the underlying legal standard." The court also held that defendant failed to show that the district court "labored under" the mistaken "assumption that threats against a parent can never create a grave risk of harm to his or her children." View "Ontiveros Soto v. Contreras" on Justia Law

by
Brittania-U filed suit against defendants for fraud, misrepresentation, and tortious interference with business relations arising out of a bidding process for oil leases in Nigeria. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Brittania-U's motion to remand and the grant of defendants' motions to dismiss based on an arbitration provision in a confidentiality agreement between Brittania-U and Chevron. The court held that jurisdiction exists, and removal was proper, under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 9 U.S.C. 203. The court also held that the district court did not err in recognizing that the confidentiality agreement's arbitration provision delegated the question of arbitrability to the arbitrators. View "Brittania-U Nigeria, Ltd. v. Chevron USA, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Father petitioned the district court to order mother to return their three-year-old daughter to Paraguay, where she lived with both parents from October 2014 to October 2016. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that Paraguay was the daughter's habitual residence and that mother had wrongfully removed her to the United States. The court held that the district court did not legally err in assessing the parties' shared intent about their child's habitual residence; nor did the district court clearly err in finding that they agreed that their daughter would habitually reside in Paraguay; and any purported evidentiary error was harmless. View "Cartes v. Phillips" on Justia Law

by
TGS, a Houston company requested seismic data from Geophysical, a Canadian company, under Canada's law that requires companies who gather seismic data about the Earth's substructure to submit their findings to the Canadian government. After a period of confidentiality, the Canadian agency that compiled this data was then apparently permitted to release it to members of the public upon specific request. Geophysicial then filed suit against TGS, alleging copyright infringement. The court held that the act of state doctrine does not forbid a United States court from considering the applicability of copyright's first sale doctrine to foreign-made copies when the foreign copier was a government agency. The court also held that the inapplicability of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., to extraterritorial conduct barred a contributory infringement claim based on the domestic authorization of entirely extraterritorial conduct. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Geophysical Service v. TGS-Nopec Geophysical" on Justia Law

by
Father initiated proceedings for the return of his two young daughters under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, 1343 U.N.T.S. 89. The children resided in Mexico City until Mother took them on vacation and wrongfully detained them in the United States. The district court ordered the children returned to Mexico. The court affirmed the district court's denial of Father's post-judgment motions, concluding that the courts in Mexico, the state of the children's habitual residence, are the appropriate forum to grant relief to address his concerns. The court explained that, subject only to the confines of Mexican law, Mexican courts are free to grant Father full custody over the children and to prohibit or restrict their international travel, and there is no international legal void that requires the Convention’s intervention. In regard to Mother's challenge of the district court's denial of her motion to vacate the Original Return Order, the arrest warrant for Mother's arrest does not establish clear and convincing evidence of a grave risk of harm to the children. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Mother's motion to vacate. View "Vergara Madrigal v. Tellez" on Justia Law

by
After an Iraqi insurgent group kidnapped and murdered twelve Nepali men as they traveled through Iraq to a United States military base to work for Daoud, a Jordanian corporation that had a subcontract with KBR, the victims' families and one Daoud employee filed suit against Daoud and KBR under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350; the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), 18 U.S.C. 1596; and state common law. Plaintiffs settled with Daoud and the district court eventually dismissed plaintiffs' claims against KBR. The court held that the district court’s grant of summary judgment on the ATS claims in favor of KBR was proper in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.; the district court correctly dismissed the TVPRA claims because (1) the TVPRA did not apply extraterritorially at the time of the alleged conduct in 2004 and (2) applying a 2008 amendment to the TVPRA that had the effect of permitting plaintiffs’ extraterritorial claims would have an improper retroactive effect on KBR; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the common law claims by refusing to equitably toll plaintiffs’ state law tort claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Adhikari v. Kellogg Brown & Root" on Justia Law

by
These consolidated cases involve Antigua and its alleged involvement with the Stanford Ponzi scheme. Antigua, as a foreign nation, challenged the district court’s jurisdiction in each suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1604. The district court determined that it had jurisdiction over the suits under both the commercial activity and waiver exceptions of the FSIA. This appeal involves the third clause of the commercial activity exception. Because the court found that Antigua’s actions did not cause a “direct effect” in the United States, the court need not consider the other elements of the commercial activity exception’s third clause. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's holding that the commercial activity exception applies. Although Antigua contests the merits of the district court’s waiver ruling, Antigua does not contest the application of the commercial activity exception to OSIC’s breach of contract claims. As such, OSIC’s breach of contract claims will proceed under the commercial activity exception regardless of whether the court overturns the district court’s holding on the waiver exception. The court also concluded that the district court has already provided Antigua with the relief it seeks on appeal, and thus declined to further address the scope of the district court’s waiver ruling. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded in part. View "Frank v. Commonwealth of Antigua and Barbuda" on Justia Law

by
The court-appointed receiver for a Ponzi scheme (the Stanford scheme) filed suit against LIA and LFICO, seeking to recover proceeds of certificates of deposits (CDs) previously transferred to LFICO by SIB. The district court ruled that LIA was immune from the district court's jurisdiction pursuant to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1291, but that LFICO was not. Both the receiver and LFICO timely appealed. The court held that the FSIA provides no basis for jurisdiction over LIA and affirmed the district court’s holding that it had no jurisdiction over the claims against LIA under the FSIA. However, the court vacated the district court's ruling that it had jurisdiction over the claims against LFICO under the FSIA and remanded for development of the factual record on this issue and for a determination whether LFICO is an organ, and thus an agent or instrumentality, of Libya under the FSIA. View "Janvey v. Libyan Investment Authority" on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law

by
Petitioner challenges the district court's denial of his petition for return of his children to Venezuela pursuant to the Hague Convention. The court concluded that the district court applied the correct legal standard in determining the children’s habitual residence, and its shared intent determination was not clearly erroneous. In this case, the record demonstrates that respondent, the children's mother, and petitioner's last shared intent was to abandon Venezuela permanently as the children’s habitual residence. There was a meeting of their minds to abandon Venezuela as the children’s habitual residence. The court also concluded that petitioner cannot meet his burden to show that the children were wrongfully removed from Venezuela or retained in the United States because Venezuela was abandoned as the children’s habitual residence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Delgado v. Osuna" on Justia Law