Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in International Law
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Trout Point sought to enforce a defamation-based default judgment that they obtained against defendant in Nova Scotia, Canada. Defendant, owner and operator of a public affairs blog, published entries on his blog alleging a link between Aaron Broussard, the former Parish President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and Trout Point Lodge and others. At issue was the newly-enacted Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (SPEECH Act), 28 U.S.C. 4102. The court affirmed the district court's determination that Trout Point could not satisfy its burden under the SPEECH Act of showing that either (A) Nova Scotian law provided at least as much protection for freedom of speech and press in defendant's case as would be provided by the First Amendment and relevant state law, or (B) defendant would have been found liable for defamation by a Mississippi court. View "Trout Point Lodge, Ltd., et al. v. Handshoe" on Justia Law

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Defendants appealed their conviction for conspiracy to possess illicit substances aboard an aircraft with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. 963. Defendants' convictions stemmed from their participation in a plan to transport cocaine from South America to the United Kingdom on board commercial airplanes. The court concluded that Congress intended that the substantive crime underlying the conspiracy charge - possession with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. 959(b) - applied extraterritorially; section 963 could be applied extraterritorially; under Blackmer v. United States, application of section 959(b) to Defendant Parker, a U.S. citizen, did not violate the Due Process Clause; extraterritorial application of section 959(b)(2) in this case was permissible as implementing Congress' treaty-making power under the Necessary and Proper Clause; and the recital of facts and the elements of conspiracy to commit the relevant offense was sufficient to enable defendants to prepare their defenses. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Lawrence, et al." on Justia Law

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Appellees, the Rubins, requested that the district court issue a Writ of Garnishment against the assets of Hamas and HLF after obtaining a judgment against Hamas for damages resulting from a terrorist attack in an outdoor pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. The district court executed the writ but the Rubins could not execute against HLF's assets because those assets had been restrained under 21 U.S.C. 853 to preserve their availability for criminal forfeiture proceedings. The district court subsequently denied the government's motion to dismiss the Rubins' third-party petition under section 853(n) to assert their interests in the restrained assets and vacated the preliminary order of forfeiture. The district court held that the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA), Pub. L. No. 107-297, title II, 201, 116 Stat. 2337, allowed the Rubins to execute against HLF's assets not withstanding the government's forfeiture proceedings. The court reversed, holding that section 853(n) did not provide the Rubins with a basis to prevail in the ancillary proceeding; TRIA did not provide the Rubins a basis to assert their interest in the forfeited property; TRIA did not trump the criminal forfeiture statute; and the in custodia legis doctrine did not preclude the district court's in personam jurisdiction over HLF. View "United States v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief, et al." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from Chevron's involvement in litigation over the alleged environmental contamination of oil fields in Ecuador. Ecuador sought discovery from John Connor and GSI Environmental, his company, for use in a foreign arbitration against Chevron. During the course of extended litigation with Ecuador, Chevron, an intervenor in the district court, benefited repeatedly by arguing against Ecuador and others that the arbitration was a "foreign or international tribunal." Because Chevron's previous positions were inconsistent with its current argument, judicial estoppel was appropriate to make discovery under 28 U.S.C. 1782 available for Ecuador. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for determination of the scope of discovery. View "Republic of Ecuador, et al v. Connor, et al" on Justia Law

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This case arose when First Investment entered into a series of shipbuilding contracts with FSIGC and Mawei (collectively, the "Fujian Entities"). First Investment alleged that the Fujian Entities breached the contracts by refusing to honor an option agreement. On appeal, First Investment appealed the district court's decision to deny confirmation of a foreign arbitral award against the Fujian Entities and the People's Republic of China. At issue was whether a court could dismiss a petition to confirm a foreign arbitration award for lack of personal jurisdiction under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. The court concluded that the district court's dismissal of the petition on personal jurisdiction grounds was appropriate. The court also concluded that the district court properly dismissed the People's Republic of China for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "First Invst Corp. of the Marshall Islands v. Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding, Ltd, et al" on Justia Law

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Servicios, a Venezuela corporation, filed suit in district court against John Deere, a Louisiana corporation, for breach of contract providing for Servicios' exclusive distributorship of John Deere products in Venezuela. Servicios appealed the district court's judgment dismissing the complaint. The court concluded that there was no per se rule against standing for non-resident aliens in federal courts, as John Deere contended, and that the principles of prudential standing did not call for the dismissal of Servicios' suit. The court also concluded that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing Servicios' complaint to the extent that it did so as a penalty for its perceived failure to properly brief its opposition to John Deere's motion. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Servicios Azucareros de Venezuela, C.A., et al v. John Deere Thibodeaux, Inc." on Justia Law

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A magistrate certified that petitioner could be extradited to Argentina to stand trial for fraud. Petitioner contended that his alleged fraud was not an extraditable offense, arguing that because the government did not establish the value of the goods he obtained, his possible jail term under domestic law could not exceed one year. Because competent evidence supported the certifying magistrate's determination that petitioner committed an offense within the scope of the extradition treaty, the court affirmed the district court's denial of his petition for habeas corpus. View "Balzan v. United States" on Justia Law

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Three cases related to the Mexican reorganization of Vitro S.A.B. de C.V., a corporation organized under the laws of Mexico, were consolidated before the court. The Ad Hoc Group of Vitro Noteholders, a group of creditors holding a substantial amount of Vitro's debt, appealed from the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's recognition of the Mexican reorganization proceeding and Vitro's appointed foreign representatives under Chapter 15 of the Bankruptcy Code. Vitro and one of its largest third-party creditors each appealed directly to the court the bankruptcy court's decision denying enforcement of the Mexican reorganization plan because the plan would extinguish the obligations of non-debtor guarantors. The court affirmed in all respects the judgment of the district court affirming the order of the bankruptcy court in No. 12-10542, and the court affirmed the order of the bankruptcy court in Nos. 12-0689 and 12-10750. The temporary restraining order originally entered by the bankruptcy court, the expiration of which was stayed by the court, was vacated, effective with the issuance of the court's mandate in Nos. 12-10689 and 12-10750. View "Ad Hoc Group of Vitro Noteholders v. Vitro S.A.B. de C.V." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a related case currently pending in a United Kingdom Litigation, which arose from contractual disputes related to the exploration, development, and operation of oil blocks in Kurdistan, Iraq. On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred by granting a motion to quash certain discovery subpoenas before plaintiff had an opportunity to respond in opposition and by not providing any reasons on the record for its decision. The court vacated the district court's order and remanded with instructions to allow plaintiff a reasonable period to respond to the motion and, thereafter, to provide written or oral reasons for the basis of its ruling. Otherwise, the district court was fully empowered to resolve these discovery disputes in a manner not inconsistent with this opinion. View "Texas Keystone, Inc. v. Prime Natural Resources, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Evelyn Larbie filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Convention), seeking the return of her son, K.L., to the United Kingdom. The district court granted Evelyn's petition and ordered Defendant Derek Larbie to turn K.L., who resided in the United States, over to Evelyn's care. The district court's application of the Convention here, however, effectively reversed a custody order entered after length proceedings, culminating in a final divorce and custody order, in which neither party objected to the state court's jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court's order and rendered judgment in Derek's favor, holding (1) Derek satisfied his burden under the Convention to show that Evelyn consented and acquiesced to the Texas court's authority to make a final custody adjudication; and (2) K.L.'s habitual residence at the time of the alleged retention remained the United States. View "Larbie v. Larbie" on Justia Law