Lago Agrio: Dutch Appeals Court Affirms Denial of Annulment

The Court of Appeals of the Hague has affirmed a lower court decision decision refusing to set aside the interim awards Chevron had won against Ecuador in the investment treaty arbitration. The main questions before the lower court were, first, whether Chevron or Texaco had an “investment” in Ecuador for purposes of the BIT, and, second, whether the awards were against public policy to the extent they sought to force Ecuador to suspend the operation of the Lago Agrio judgment, contrary (Ecuador said) to Ecuadoran law.

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Read more about the article He Sullies and Degrades Everything He Touches
The Emperor Caligula

He Sullies and Degrades Everything He Touches

I’ve always liked Robert Graves’s historical fiction, even though Graves himself thought the books were popular claptrap. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Anyway, I’ve been remembering the part of the story involving the mad emperor Caligula from I, Claudius, as narrated by his clever uncle, who was later to be the emperor Claudius. By Caligula’s reign the old Roman nobility had already been degraded, but Caligula (at least the fictionalized Caligula) shamed and humiliated them all. He made them worship him as a god. He would prostitute Roman matrons to common men. He forced the Senate to admit his horse, Incitatus, as a Senator. And he married off his old uncle, the crippled, stammering Claudius, to a beautiful maiden, Messalina, for his own amusement. Everyone knew he was crazy, but he had some popular support and no one was brave enough to call him out. Finally, the honorable Cassius killed him, showing that the emperor had no clothes. But along the way Caligula sullied what was left of the Roman elite.

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Case of the Day: Lunn v. Commonwealth

It’s not really on-topic, but I want to tell you about an interesting decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday, Lunn v. Commonwealth (Mass. 2017). Sreynuon Lunn was arraigned on a charge of robbery in the Boston Municipal Court. Bail was set at $1,500, and because Lunn could not post bail, he was committed to the custody of the sheriff and held in the county jail. Just before the arraignment, the federal Department of Homeland Security had issued a “detainer” against him. The detainer is a request—not a command—that Massachusetts hold Lunn for up to two days after he would otherwise be released from custody, so that the Department could take him into custody with the intention of deporting him.


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Jared Hubbard on the Texas Loophole

I’m happy to welcome new commenter Jared Hubbard to Letters Blogatory! Jared has a practice in Newburyport, and before that was most recently an associate with White & Case. He knows whereof he writes, because he’s admitted to practice in Texas, and he was counsel to OPEC in the Freedom Watch case, which I’ve covered before. Welcome, Jared!

One of the recent cases of the day, Chukapalli v. Mandava (Tex. Ct. App. 2017), raised an interesting loophole to international service requirements. In that case, the court reversed a default judgment as the plaintiff had not complied with the Hague Service Convention, but on remand no compliant service was required due to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 123, which provides:

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Case to Watch: In re Abu Zubaydah

Readers, you will want to keep an eye on In re Application of Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn (Abu Zabaydah), a really interesting § 1782 application pending in the Eastern District of Washington. Abu Zabaydah was a key figure in the government’s pre- and post-9/11 efforts to fight Al Qaeda. I’m not going to detail the whole sordid history of the case, but from what I’ve read it seems that Abu Zabaydah was a jihadi and an enemy of the United States, and that our government, which captured him in Pakistan in 2002, brutally tortured him and has no intention of either releasing him from custody or charging him with any crime. Senator Feinstein, on the Senate floor, said that for more than two weeks in 2002, he was subject to “nonstop interrogation and abuse, 24/7,” which included “multiple forms of deprivation and physical assault.”

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Case of the Day: Kriegman v. Slanina

The case of the day is Kriegman v. Slanina (In re LLS America, LLC) (E.D. Wash. 2017). We don’t really know what the case was about, but the court had entered a default judgment against Slanina, and Slanina had then appeared and sought to vacate the judgment on service of process grounds.

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Case of the Day: Bamberger Rosenheim v. OA Development

The case of the day is Bamberger Rosenheim, Ltd. v. OA Development, Inc. (11th Cir. 2017). Bamberger, or Profimex, is an Israeli real estate investment company. OA was a Georgia real estate development company. The two companies entered into a Solicitation Agreement, which included the following agreement to arbitrate:

Any disputes with respect to this Agreement or the performance of the parties hereunder shall be submitted to binding arbitration proceedings conducted in accordance with the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce. Any such proceedings shall take place in Tel Aviv, Israel, in the event the dispute is submitted by OAD, and in Atlanta, Georgia, in the event the dispute is submitted by Profimex.

Profimex commenced an arbitration against OA in Atlanta, alleging a breach of contract. OA brought a counterclaim for defamation against Profimex in the same arbitration. Profimex argued to the arbitrator that the counterclaim should be arbitrated in Tel Aviv, but the arbitrator disagreed, concluding that the “dispute” was the whole dispute, including the counterclaim, and that Profimex had submitted it. The arbitration ended with an award in favor of OA, which moved to confirm. Profimex moved to vacate. The district court confirmed the award, and Profimex appealed.

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Case of the Day: Deutsche Bank v. Sebastian Holdings

The case of the day is Deutsche Bank AG v. Sebastian Holdings, Inc. (Conn. Ct. App. 2017). Sebastian Holdings was a Turks and Caicos company. Deutsche Bank sued Sebastian in England on a claim relating to trading losses Sebastian had incurred in connection with a trading account it had opened with Deutsche Bank. The English court gave Deutsche Bank judgment for more than $243 million. Deutsche Bank then asked the English court to hold Sebastian’s sole shareholder and director, Alexander Vik, personally liable for a portion of its court costs. Vik, incidentally, was described in a 2014 article that discusses the Sebastian Holdings matter as “the most interesting man in the world,” and in the article’s headline as “the most interesting man in the world (as long as he doesn’t owe you money).” The English court agreed and granted Deutsche Bank’s cost application. Sebastian failed to satisfy the judgment.

Deutsche Bank then brought an action in Connecticut seeking recognition and enforcement of the English judgment against Vik personally. The parties cross-moved for summary judgment. Vik and Sebastian asserted that any veil piercing claim was barred by the doctrine of res judicata, because it should have been brought in the English proceeding. Deutsche Bank, for its part, argued that the English court, by deciding the cost reimbursement application as it did, had already held that Vik was Sebastian’s alter ego, and that Vik was collaterally estopped to relitigate the issue. The court denied both motions, and the parties appealed (the case was appealable as of right for purposes that don’t matter to us).

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Case of the Day: Badawi v. Alesawy

The case of the day is Badawi v. Alesawy (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2017). I wrote about the case in 2012 and last year. Here was my description of the facts:

The parties were married civilly in New York in 1998, and they had an Islamic wedding ceremony thereafter. As part of the religious ceremony, they signed a mahr agreement that required the husband to make an advance payment to the wife of $5,000, with deferred payment of $250,000 in case of divorce. While living in Abu Dhabi, the wife obtained a divorce, custody of the children, and a judgment for the $250,000 payment due under the mahr. She then sought recognition and enforcement of the Abu Dhabi judgment in New York insofar as it related to the payment due under the mahr.


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