Congress Overrides The JASTA Veto

By lopsided votes, Congress overrode the President’s veto of JASTA, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The vote in the Senate was 97 to 1, and in the House of Representatives the vote was 348 to 77. What’s done is done, but it just seems very odd to me for the country with the greatest presence in other countries around the world to be knocking holes in the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

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Lago Agrio: Donziger Seeks Rehearing En Banc

Shimon Peres
May his memory be for a blessing. Credit: Michael Thaidigsmann

Steven Donziger has petitioned the Second Circuit to rehear his appeal of Judge Kaplan’s judgment in the RICO case en banc. It’s a Deepak Gupta brief, so it’s well-done and a good read. Will it be successful? Here are a few thoughts.

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President Obama Vetoes JASTA

The World Trade Center on 9/11
Credit: Robert on Flikr

Since we are talking about the other branches of government getting involved in foreign sovereign immunity, here is a report on the proposed Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, S. 2040. The purpose of the bill is “to provide civil litigants with the broadest possible basis, consistent with the Constitution of the United States, to seek relief against persons, entities, and foreign countries, wherever acting and wherever they may be found, that have provided material support, directly or indirectly, to foreign organizations or persons that engage in terrorist activities against the United States.” Its immediate impetus was the plight of the 9/11 survivors, who found that they could not bring a claim against Saudi Arabia on account of that country’s foreign sovereign immunity, taken together with the fact that the United States has not opened the doors to a suit by designating Saudi Arabia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

A few days ago the President vetoed the bill. For non-American readers: when a bill passes both houses of Congress, it goes to the President for his approval. If he approves it, it becomes a law, and if not, then he returns it to Congress, which has to reconsider the bill in light of the President’s objections. If each house of Congress again passes the bill by a two-thirds majority, then it becomes a law notwithstanding the President’s disapproval. The President can also “pocket veto” a bill that reaches his desk within ten days of Congress’s adjournment by neither signing it nor returning it to Congress. Since Congress was scheduled to adjourn, it may be that the administration’s plan was to pocket veto the bill, allowing Democrats to take a politically safe vote for the bill but still allowing for an effective veto. But Congress had to remain in session to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government, and the bill was brought up in the House of Representatives on a motion to suspend the rules for the purpose of allowing the bill to be passed sooner than it otherwise could be passed. I’m not totally sure of all of the machinations, but at the end of the day, the timing for a pocket veto didn’t work out. So Congress will have the opportunity to vote on the bill again, and it may hand President Obama the first veto override of his administration.

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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. Sudan (2d Cir. 2016). I wrote about the case about a year ago. Today’s decision is on a petition for rehearing brought by Sudan, joined by the United States as amicus curiae.

Here was my statement of the facts from the prior post:

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Case of the Day: Shanghai Commercial Bank v. Chang

The case of the day is Shanghai Commercial Bank Ltd. v. Chang (Wash. Ct. App. 2016). The bank had a Hong Kong judgment against Chang on account of an unpaid debt. The bank sought recognition and enforcement of the Hong Kong judgment in Washington, where Chang and his wife, Chen, had lived for many years. They were married long before Chang incurred the debt to the bank, though Chen herself had not incurred the debt and didn’t know about it at the time. The trial court held previously held that the Hong Kong judgment was entitled to recognition, and in today’s case it held that the judgment could be enforced against the marital property of Chang and Chen (Washington is a community property state). Chang appealed.

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Case of the Day: Bevilacqua v. US Bank

The case of the day is Bevilacqua v. US Bank, NA (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016). US Bank brought a foreclosure action against a mortgagor, Renato Bevilacqua. The return of service indicated that Bevilacqua was personally served in Miami, Florida. US Bank obtained a default judgment, but Bevilacqua then moved to set aside the judgment, stating that he lived in Italy, had never been served with process, and had had no notice of the action. The court set aside the judgment. The bank then sought to serve process on Bevilacqua via the central authority under the Hague Service Convention.

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Second Edition!

Cover of International Judicial Assistance, second edition

MCLE has just published the second edition of my book, International Judicial Assistance: Serving Process, Obtaining Evidence, Enforcing Judgments and Awards. I have to say—and this is not false modesty—I was very surprised that the publisher had sold enough copies of the first edition to justify a second, but that being said, I was very happy to have the chance to improve some sections, correct some mistakes, and discuss new developments since 2012. I am especially thankful to my colleague Peter C. Obersheimer, who made a major contribution to getting the book into shape for the second edition.

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Case of the Day: Zaft v. Golan

The case of the day is Zaft v. Golan (N.D. Fla. 2013). It’s an older case that just came across my screen and is worth a mention. Gidon Zaft, an American, and Yair Golan, an Israeli, were parties to a partnership agreement under which Zaft owned 70% of Royal Moroccan Inc., a Floridan corporation, and Golan owned 30%. The agreement had Florida choice of law and choice of forum agreements, and it provided:

All notices required or permitted under the terms of this Agreement shall be in writing and shall be
deemed to have been properly given and served when sent by overnight, Registered and/or Certified Mail, postage prepaid, returned receipt requested, properly addressed.

Zaft sued Golan on several business tort claims. According to the return of service, a process server personally served the documents on Golan in Israel, at the address specified for notices in the agreement. The court entered Golan’s default when Golan didn’t answer. Golan sought relief from the default on the grounds that he had not been properly served with process.

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Case of the Day: O’Keeffe v. Adelson

Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson. Credit: Bectrigger

The case of the day is O’Keeffe v. Adelson (11th Cir. 2016). This is the appeal from In re Application of O’Keeffe (S.D. Fla. 2015), which I covered. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson sued Wall Street Journal reporter Kate O’Keeffee in Hong Kong for defamation after she described him as a “scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire from working class Dorchester, Mass.”

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Case of the Day: Princeton Digital Image v. Konami Digital Entertainment

Dance Dance Revolution logo

The case of the day is Princeton Digital Image Corp. v. Konami Digital Entertainment Inc. (D. Del. 2016). The case was a patent infringement action against Konami, the developer of the Dance Dance Revolution video game . Princeton sought an order requiring Konami, the US subsidiary of Konami Holdings Corp., to produce documents in the possession of its sister subsidiary, Konami Japan, on the theory that the documents were within the US subsidiary’s control. (The ordinary test for what is discoverable, under FRCP 34, is that the documents must be in the responding party’s “possession, custody, or control”).

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