Case of the Day: In re Naranjo

It never rains but it pours. The case of the day is In re Naranjo (4th Cir. 2014). The case was an appeal by the Lago Agrio plaintiffs and one of their lawyers, Letters Blogatory contributor Aaron Marr Page, from discovery orders in separate proceedings brought by Chevron under Section 1782 and under FRCP 45. The Section 1782 proceedings were in aid of the BIT arbitration between Chevron and Ecuador and in aid of the appellate proceedings in Ecuador. The FRCP 45 proceedings arose out of subpoenas Chevron issued in the RICO case in the Southern District of New York. In both cases, the issue was whether Page could assert an attorney-client privilege.
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Case of the Day: Republic of Ecuador v. Chevron Corp.

The case of the day is Republic of Ecuador v. Chevron Corp. (Hoge Raad 2014). The Dutch Supreme Court affirmed the BIT arbitral award against Ecuador, which arose out of Chevron’s claim that it had suffered damages on account of undue delay in the settlement of lawsuits TexPet (of which Chevron was a shareholder) had brought against Ecuador in the early 1990s. I haven’t seen a real English translation of the decision, but the main point seems to be that it was for the arbitrators to determine the scope of the term “investment” as used in the treaty, which according to the court was exceptionally broad. While this arbitration doesn’t directly relate to the Lago Agrio litigation, the gist of the decision is no doubt welcome news to Chevron.
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Case of the Day: Freedom Watch v. OPEC

The case of the day is Freedom Watch, Inc. v. OPEC (D.C. Cir. 2014). This is the appeal from the case of the day from January 28, 2013. Here is a bit of my description of the case from the prior post:

Freedom Watch, a right-wing organization that accuses the “Obama-Clinton regime” of “using the economic crisis as an excuse to turn our nation into a socialist Euro-style welfare state,” sued OPEC on antitrust theories. I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that its claims lacked merit. OPEC moved to dismiss for insufficient service of process. According to OPEC’s motion to dismiss, “Plaintiff’s counsel, Mr. Larry Klayman, ersonally handed an envelope containing a summons, the complaint and other documents, all in English, to an Austrian police officer (not an employee of OPEC) who was present at the reception desk in the lobby of OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna.” On the other hand, according to the return of service, filed after the motion to dismiss, Courtney Butcher of Beverly Hills, California served the summons at OPEC headquarters on Frederich Luger, “intake officer of OPEC,” who supposedly was designated by law to accept service of process on OPEC.

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Book Review: Michael Goldhaber’s Crude Awakening: Chevron In Ecuador

Michael Goldhaber
Michael Goldhaber

I don’t know whether the timing of Michael Goldhaber’s new e-book, Crude Awakening, which came out shortly before Paul Barrett’s Law of the Jungle, was mere coincidence, but it is fair to say that for Steven Donziger, September is the cruelest month. Folks who have not been following the twists and turns of the Chevron/Ecuador case are going to read these two books, and together they paint a devastating picture of the larger-than-life Harvard Law School graduate.
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Case of the Day: Trade Well International v. United Central Bank

Readers, I over-promised on the Goldhaber review: it’s not ready today. Instead …

The case of the day is Trade well International v. United Central Bank (W.D. Wis. 2014). Trade Well, a Pakistani corporation represented by a lawyer named Maurice J. Salem, sued UCB alleging conversion of hotel furnishings. UCB, the owner of the hotel, was in the process of selling the building when Mr. Salem “filed an unlawful lien on the building, ostensibly to preserve Trade Well’s claim (although it in fact had no claim on the hotel itself.” The lien filing interfered with the impending sale. The court sanctioned Salem and revoked his admission to practice pro hac vice. The judge also invited UCB to assert counterclaims, and UCB counterclaimed for a declaratory judgment that the lien was void and for slander of title. Trade Well failed to answer the counterclaim (or, as far as the decision shows, to hire a new lawyer, though Salem, to the judge’s consternation, filed what he called an “amicus brief” opposing UCB’s motion), and UCB sought a default judgment. Salem’s brief argued that service of the counterclaim by mail in Pakistan was improper because it failed to comply with the Hague Service Convention.
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Book Review: Paul Barrett’s Law of the Jungle

Law of the Jungle jacketAs I was reading Paul M. Barrett’s new book, Law of the Jungle I was kicking myself. There’s obviously a market for popular treatments of the Chevron/Ecuador case. Barrett’s book is not the only one: Michael Goldhaber’s Crude Awakening has just been published, too (here’s my review). I coulda been a contender! When we spoke, Barrett told me he has already been talking with a major studio, which is no surprise given that the book has some highly cinematic moments and seems made for the big screen.

George Clooney
Why Not? Credit: Angela George

I asked him who would play Donziger (he didn’t know), but what I really want to know is: who is going to write the book and make the movie about the enterprising blogger who devoted three years of Sundays to covering the twists and turns in the case and will be played by George Clooney … well, no one has optioned that story yet!
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Case of the Day: AHAB v. Standard Chartered Bank

I love the case of the day, Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi & Bros. v. Standard Chartered Bank (D.C. 2014), because it is pretty much exactly like the case from a few days ago, Standard Chartered Bank v. Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi & Bros. (Pa. Super. Ct. 2014), but it comes to precisely the opposite conclusion.
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Case of the Day: In re Application Pursuant to § 1782

The case of the day is In re Application Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 (S.D. Ohio 2014). Sebastian Stygar was one of the shareholders and managing directors of several companies called the Lingaro entities. He claimed he had been wrongfully frozen out of the business, and he sought discovery from his two fellow principals, Slawomir Kaczor and Tomasz Rogucki, for use in litigation concerning the dispute in Poland. The facts of the dispute aren’t otherwise important. The key question is where Kaczor and Rogucki could be found. Under § 1782, you can obtain an order for discovery from someone who “resides or is found” in the relevant judicial district. Here, Stygar’s claim was that Kaczor and Rogucki were “found” in the Southern District of Ohio because they occasionally traveled to Cincinnati for work.
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Case of the Day: Derr v. Swarek

The case of the day is Derr v. Swarek (5th Cir. 2014). This was the appeal of the case of the day from Sept. 12, 2013. The basic facts: Thomas L. Swarek and Thomas A. Swarek sued Herman Derr in the Issqquena County, Mississippi chancery court seeking specific performance of a purchase and sale agreement and damages. Derr, who resided in Germany, moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. He died while the case was pending, and his estate was substituted as defendant. The case was stayed while the parties fought about whether it belonged in the chancery court or in the circuit court. While the litigation was stayed, Derr’s heirs filed a lawsuit in a German court seeking a declaratory judgment on the contract claim. Swarek sought to substitute the heirs for the estate as parties in the Mississippi action, but the Swareks then voluntarily dismissed their claims with prejudice before the substitution. Ultimately the German courts decided that the Derr heirs were entitled to their declaratory judgment even though the Swareks (it would seem) had mooted the suit by dismissing their own claims with prejudice. (According to the German court, the dismissal was a “unilateral statement” that did not extinguish the Derr’s claims under German law). The German court awarded costs in the amount of $300,000 (!), and the Derrs sought recognition of the judgment for costs in Mississippi. As we saw in the earlier case, the district court refused recognition of the judgment, and the Derrs appealed.
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