Case of the Day: Clay v. Hilton

The case of the day is Clay v. Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (W.D. Wash. 2020). Clay was in Phuket, Thailand, for a business conference. When he was strode on the stage during his presentation, he tripped and fell, suffering a serious injury. He sued the company that owned the hotel and the company that managed it for negligence in a Thai court. The case went to trial, but Clay didn’t attend, because his doctors had not yet cleared him for international travel. The Thai court refused to continue the trial as Clay had asked. Clay presented his evidence in writing only. The defendants did present witnesses, but Clay’s lawyers did not cross-examine them or present any witnesses of their own. The court held that Clay had failed to put on evidence to prove negligence and therefore entered a judgment in favor of the defendants. Clay then brought an action against Hilton in Washington. Hilton moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Thai judgment was entitled to claim-preclusive and issue-preclusive effect. (more…)

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Unmeritorious Case Of The Day: Missouri v. China

I’m keeping an eye on Missouri v. People’s Republic of China, a case just filed in the Eastern District of Missouri. The claim is against the Chinese government and several ministries and local governments, as well as the Communist Party of China and two institutes whose status is unclear, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. For the moment I am going to assume that all of the defendants are either foreign states, political subdivisions of a foreign state, or agencies or instrumentalities of a foreign state, though I’ll discuss the CCP below. The claim is, more or less, that China is responsible for the global pandemic and the harm it has caused in the United States. (more…)

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Massachusetts Readies for Remote Notary Practice

The Massachusetts General Court (our legislature) has passed a bill allowing for notaries to take oaths and acknowledgments in certain circumstances remotely during the state of emergency the Governor declared during the pandemic. I am on record here at Letters Blogatory as generally opposing such laws for a variety of reasons, but in the current emergency the law seems to me to be necessary and appropriate, and I think the drafters have done a good job addressing the problem while minimizing the downsides to allowing the practice. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Francisco S. v. Aetna

The case of the day is Francisco S. v. Aetna Life Insurance Co. (D. Utah 2020). Francisco S. was an employee of the World Bank. The Bank provided him with health benefits under a self-funded employee benefits plan. Aetna was the third-party administrator. Aetna denied a claim submitted for Francisco’s daughter, and Francisco sued Aetna and the World Bank plan. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Corporación AIC v. Hidroelectrica Santa Rita

The case of the day is Corporación AIC SA v. Hidroelectrica Santa Rita SA (S.D. Fla 2020). The parties had a contract for turnkey design and construction of a hydroelectric plant in Guatemala. HSR paid about $11 million to the contractor, AIC, and issued a notice to proceed. But the local community opposed the construction, and in the end, the opposition proved so fierce, including a blockade of the project and threats directed against workers, that HSR issued a force majeure notice requiring AIC to suspend work, and it eventually terminated the contract under a termination for convenience clause. The decision says very little about some key things. It says that “the Tribunal applied Guatemalan law,” which seems to mean that Guatemalan law governed the substance of the dispute, and it says that “the Tribunal conducted an evidentiary hearing in Miami.” But it does not specifically identify the seat of the arbitration, though I assume the seat was in Miami. (more…)

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HCCH Publishes Guide to Good Practice on the Use of Video Conferencing under the Evidence Convention

The HCCH has just published its Guide to Good Practice on the use of video-conferencing technology in taking evidence under the Evidence Convention. Of course, the GGP wasn't written from…

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Case of the Day: In re Storag Etzel

The case of the day is In re Storag Etzel GmbH (D. Del. 2020). The decision does not give the facts of the case other than to say it is a § 1782 application in aid of a private foreign arbitration. So you can guess what the issue is. And maybe you can guess, from what I’ve just said about the terseness of the opinion, how it came out. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Rockefeller v. Changzhou SinoType

The case of the day is Rockefeller Technology Investments (Asia) VII v. Changzhou Sinotype Technology Co. (Cal. 2020). I wrote about the intermediate appellate decision in October 2018, and I briefly noted the new decision last week. Sinotype was a Chinese company. The parties were negotiating towards a contract to form a new company, and they had an interim memorandum of understanding that provided:

The Parties shall provide notice in the English language to each other at the addresses set forth in the Agreement via Federal Express or similar courier, with copies via facsimile or email, and shall be deemed received 3 business days after deposit with the courier.

The Parties hereby submit to the jurisdiction of the Federal and State Courts in California and consent to service of process in accord with the notice provisions above.

In the event of any disputes arising between the Parties to this Agreement, either Party may submit the dispute to [JAMS] in Los Angeles for exclusive and final resolution … according to its streamlined procedures before a single arbitrator … pursuant to California law ….

When negotiations broke down, Rockefeller sought arbitration. It gave notice of the arbitration to SinoType via FedEx and email in China. SinoType did not appear in the arbitration, and the arbitrator awarded $414 million in damages. Rockefeller filed a petition under California law to confirm the award. It transmitted the petition and summons to SinoType in China via FedEx and email. SinoType defaulted and the court confirmed the award. SinoType then appeared and move to set aside the judgment for insufficient service of process. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Illumina Cambridge v. Complete Genomics

The case of the day is Illumina Cambridge Ltd. v. Complete Genomics, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2020). I last wrote about the case a couple of months ago. In most respects, it is a typical Section 1782 case, but I want to call two points to your attention. (more…)

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