Case of the Day: Harrison v. Sudan

USS Cole
USS Cole after the attack. Credit: Sgt. Don L. Maes, USMC
The case of the day is Harrison v. Republic of Sudan (2d Cir. 2015). The case arose out of the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen 2000. Several sailors and their families sued the Republic of Sudan in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that Sudan had provided material report to al Qaeda, which had taken responsibility for the attack. The action ended with a $314 million default judgment against Sudan. The plaintiffs registered the judgment in the Southern District of New York and sought to enforce it. The court in New York entered several turnover orders, and Sudan appealed, arguing, among other things, that the judgment was void because it had not been validly served with process.

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Case of the Day: In re Marriage of Lohman

The case of the day is In re Marriage of Lohman (Colo. Ct. App. 2015). The wife was an Englishwoman. She and the husband married in Colorado in 1997, and they had a child the next year. In 2008, after the couple separated, the wife moved to England with the child, while the husband stayed in Colorado.

The wife filed a divorce petition in an English court and served her husband with process in Colorado. The husband did not participate in the English proceedings. In 2010, the English court entered a judgment against the husband for £638,000, which included £120,000 as a lump sum for maintenance, £80,000 for the child’s post-secondary education, £423,000 for the purchase of a home, and £15,000 for attorney’s fees.

The wife then sought to register the English support order in the Grand County (Colorado) District Court under the Uniform Family Support Act. The husband opposed her attempt. The district court ruled in favor of the wife and the husband appealed, arguing that the English court had lacked personal jurisdiction. (There was procedural wrangling about whether the defense had been waived, etc., that I won’t cover here).

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Case of the Day: Universal Group Development v. Yu

The case of the day is Universal Group Development Inc. (Saipan) v. Yu (D.N.M.I. 2015). I believe this is our first case from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Hafa Adai, Saipan! Just a brief word about the status of the Islands and the court: the Northern Mariana Islands are is an organized unincorporated territory of the United States, like Puerto Rico. The US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands is not a court established under Article III of the Constitution: it is established under Article IV, § 3, which provides:

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.

Its judges are appointed by the President (with the advice and consent of the Senate) for a limited term, not for life. This is like the District Court of Guam but contrasts with the US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, which Congress, by statute, made into a true Article III court with judges with tenure during their good behavior. Appeals from the court generally go to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Anyway, here was the case. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Alpha Bank Cyprus v. Si Senh

The case of the day is Alpha Bank Cyprus Ltd. v. Si Senh (E.C.J. 2015). Alpha Bank, a Cyprus bank, had lent money to Dau Si Senh and several other residents of the UK for the purchase of immovable property in Cyprus. Alpha sued Si Senh and the others for payment of the loans. The suit was brought in a Cyprus court. On Alpha’s motion, the Cyprus court of first instance ordered service on the UK defendants under the Service Regulation, Regulation No. 1393/2007. The UK defendants were served with Alpha’s ex parte application and a “notice of writ” in Greek and English, the court’s order authorizing service outside of Cyprus, in Greek only, and the affidavit of the translator concerning the faithfulness of the translation of the main document. The UK authorities determine that the Greek document didn’t need to be translated, and so they didn’t include the form prescribed by the Regulation that advises defendants of their right to refuse receipt of untranslated documents.

Si Senh and the others appeared under protest and sought an order declaring the service of process invalid on the grounds that the service did not comply with Article 8 of the Service Regulation or Article D.48, Rule 13 of the Cyprus Code of Civil Procedure. Among other things, they argued that the standard form mentioned in Article 8(1) had not been served on them.

The court of first instance ruled in favor of Si Senh and the others, and Alpha appealed. The Supreme Court of Cyprus, the Ανώτατο Δικαστήριο της Κύπρου, reversed to the extent the lower court had held that the violation of Cyprus law justified invalidating the service. But it referred the question of compliance with the Service Regulation to the European Court of Justice.

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Case of the Day: Persh v. Petersen

The case of the day is Persh v. Petersen (S.D.N.Y. 2015). Neil Persh lived in New York, and Aldo Petersen lived in Denmark. The two were friends and business partners. Persh sued Petersen for breach of an oral contract, and Petersen moved to dismiss for insufficient service of process.

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Case of the Day: AVR Communications v. American Hearing Systems

The case of the day is AVR Communications, Ltd. v. American Hearing Systems, Inc. (Minn. Ct. App. 2005). American Hearing Systems, a Minnesota firm in the hearing aid business, got into a contract dispute with AVR, an Israeli firm. In 2007, AVR commenced an arbitration against AHS in Israel that resulted in an award in favor of AVR for $2.675 million in damages and ₪ 1 million in fees and expenses. In other words, the award was partly denominated in dollars and partly in shekels. In 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota confirmed the award. Its judgment required payment of a portion of the judgment in shekels, just as the award had. AVR then sought to register the federal judgment in the Minnesota state district court. The decision said AVR did this “so [it] could begin collection proceedings.” Of course, registration of the federal judgment in the state courts was hardly necessary—the federal courts have ample remedies for judgment creditors, and indeed, FRCP 69 incorporates the remedies the judgment creditor would have in the state courts.

In any event, the state district court refused to enter a judgment denominated in both dollars and shekels. Instead, it entered a judgment denominated in dollars only, at a particular conversion rate. AHS appealed.


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Lago Agrio: Are The Disclosures About Doug Cassel’s Work for Chevron Sufficient?

Readers, I feel a sense of responsibility when someone who contributes to Letters Blogatory gets in some sort of trouble on account of what he or she has written here. The first instance of this was the case of Allison Morris, a journalist with the Irish News. Those of you who followed the Belfast Project case will remember Morris had interviewed Dolours Price, and there was some reason to think that her articles about that interview led to the Belfast Project fiasco. Anthony McIntyre, one of the men who conducted the interviews with former IRA members that the Northern Irish authorities sought and obtained from the United States under the US/UK MLAT, claimed that Morris was a police informer and an agent of the British state, which, she claimed, put her life in danger. Morris then complained to the National Union of Journalists, which suspended McIntyre. McIntyre appealed, and I noted that Morris, his accuser, did not appear at the hearing. Although I hadn’t asked her for her explanation, Morris wrote that she didn’t attend because of work commitments and because of the financial strain financing the trip to London. It turned out that she had sent a bunch of tweets that showed that she had traveled to a soccer match at the time of the hearing. So maybe her earlier explanation on Letters Blogatory was untrue, though in my view her sin was a venial one; but McIntyre and his allies piled on in a way that to me seemed cruel and over-the-top, even if they would have been within their rights to have a laugh at Morris’s blooper.

Now it is Doug Cassel’s turn. (more…)

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Lago Agrio: Chevron Settles With H5

Marcus Junius Brutus
Et tu, Calmbacher Reyes the Huaorani people Burford Capital Stratus Consulting Beltman Maest Bogart Patton Boggs DeLeon H5?
Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Chevron has settled yet another claim against a business that was associated with the Lago Agrio plaintiffs and their lawsuit in Ecuador. H5 was an e-discovery and litigation services firm that owned a small percentage interest in the Ecuadoran judgment. No cash changed hands, but H5 transferred its interest in the judgment to Chevron and agreed not to participate further in the Lago Agrio case.

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