Readers, I'll have new posts for you beginning the week of January 4. Best wishes for a happy New Year!
I’m happy to welcome first-time guest poster Larissa Pochmann of the Universidade Candido Mendes, with a post on Brazil’s recent accession to the Hague Apostille Convention. Welcome, Larissa!
The Apostille Convention, also known as the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, was drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. There are eighty members of the Hague Conference (79 states and one Regional Economic Integration Organization) and 68 non-member states are connected with the Conference. According to the State Department’s helpful explanation, apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents, which are documents originating from a court, a clerk of court, a public prosecutor or process server, and also administrative documents, notarial acts, and official certificates placed on documents. A public document with an apostille will be recognized in foreign countries that are parties to the Convention, regardless of the official language of the issuing country and without a requirement of diplomatic or consular legalization.
As a counterweight to the Trumpism that I decried in a recent post, I want to draw your attention to a speech that the Chief Justice of our Supreme Judicial Court, Ralph Gants, made at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. The Chief Justice reached out to the ISBCC and asked for the opportunity to address the congregation. His speech is short on flashiness and long on American (and Massachusetts) values—a great response to much of the nonsense we’ve had to hear recently on how the United States should treat its Muslim citizens. Well done, Chief Justice Gants!
The case of the day is Pinnacle Packaging Co. v. Constantia Flexibles GmbH (N.D. Okla. 2015). Pinnacle and the other plaintiffs served a notice for the deposition of Thomas Unger, the CEO of Constantia, and for the depositions of corporate representatives of Constantia and One Equity Partners. Unger resides in Germany. Constantia’s offices are in Austria, and One Equity’s officers are in Germany. The depositions were to take place in New York. The defendants moved for a protective order, arguing that the depositions should take place in Germany and Austria rather than in New York.
In my last post on the Kuwait Airways case, I noted that I hadn’t been able to find the airline’s “countersuit” against the Department of Transportation. “Countersuit” is, of course, the wrong word, but in fact the airline has petitioned the DC Circuit to review the DOT’s administrative decision. Eldad Gatt, the Israeli national who was refused service by the airline, has moved for leave to intervene.
Back in October, I reported that Kuwait Airways, which operates flights between New York and London, was refusing to sell tickets to customers with Israeli passports, citing Kuwaiti law, which forbids doing business with Israelis. After first ignoring the complaint of an Israeli traveler, Eldad Gatt, the Department of Transportation eventually did the right thing, determining that the airline’s policy violated US law, which prohibits unreasonable discrimination. Since then, the airline petitioned for review, but the Department rejected its petition and instructed the airline to cease and desist from further violations of the law.
In my post on Chevron’s settlements of its Gibraltar lawsuit against James Russell DeLeon and Torvia Ltd., I noted that Chevron still had a pending claim against Amazonia Recovery, Ltd. and its directors, including Pablo Fajardo. Amazonia, recall, was the entity designed to receive and then to distribute the proceeds of the Lago Agrio judgment.
The case of the day is Alimanestianu v. United States (Fed. Cl. 2015). The plaintiffs are relatives of Mihai Alimanestianu, an American citizen who was killed aboard an airplane that exploded over Niger in 1989. The explosion was due to a terrorist act sponsored by the Libyan government.
In 1996, Congress amended the FSIA to eliminate foreign sovereign immunity in cases of personal injury cause by acts of state-sponsored terrorism. In 2002, the plaintiffs sued Libya and several officials. The district court granted a summary judgment in their favor in 2008 for approximately $1.3 billion in damages. Libya and its officials appealed.
On the date Libya appealed, the United States and Libya entered into a claim settlement agreement. Under the agreement, Libya was no longer within the state-sponsored terrorism exception to the FSIA. The agreement also terminated all pending suits, including suits that had gone to judgment but were still on appeal, and precluded future suits alleging Libyan state-sponsored terrorism. The agreement also established a “humanitarian settlement fund,” into which Libya deposited $1.5 billion to compensate US claimants, and the US deposited $300 million to compensate Libyan claimants. The US and Libya agreed, for themselves and their nationals, that the fund would be a full and final settlement of all claims. Congress then enacted the Libyan Claims Resolution Act, which implemented the agreement. The United States then moved to intervene in the Alimanesianu case and moved to vacate the judgment. The Court of Apppeals granted the motion and ordered the district court to dismiss the case with prejudice. The relatives received just over $10 million from the US government from the $1.5 billion contributed by Libya.
Readers abroad, you may not have heard the phrase, “If you see something, say something.” It’s something we here in the U.S. see all the time in public places and on trains and at airports. The idea is that if you see an unattended package on a seat in your train car, let the conductor know. This idea is part of the response to the new threats we face in the post-9/11 world.
I want to put the saying to another use today. We’ve all read about Donald Trump’s recent outrageous statements. (more…)