Case of the Day: Merlini v. Canada

The case of the day is Merlini v. Canada (1st Cir. 2019). Merlini, an American citizen, was a clerical worker at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston. In 2009, while setting up coffee and tea for a meeting, she tripped and fell over a cord that a fellow worker had failed to secure to the floor. She suffered a serious injury that, according to the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (more on that below), rendered her permanently unable to work. Simple case, right? The worker files a workers’ compensation claim and is paid the statutory benefits due to any worker injured on the job.

Not so simple, actually. The Government of Canada had not purchased workers’ compensation insurance in Massachusetts. It preferred to administer its own workers’ compensation system in Canada, and while it paid Merlini benefits under that system for a few months, it stopped payments in late 2009. Thus began Merlini’s long odyssey through the complexities of administrative tribunals and Massachusetts and federal courts—a journey that is not yet over despite her victory in today’s case. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Maalouf v. Iran

The case of the day is Maalouf v. Iran (D.C. Cir. 2019). The cases arose out of the 1983 and 1984 bombings of US diplomatic missions in Beirut by Hizbullah and the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by Al Qaeda. The Iranian government has been linked to all of the bombings, and the Sudanese government to the bombings in Africa. I wrote about one of the cases in the lower court, Kinyua v. Sudan, about a year ago, and about Maalouf itself in April 2018. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Pablo Star v. Welsh Government

The case of the day is Pablo Star, Ltd. v. Welsh Government (S.D.N.Y. 2019). The case involves Wales’s great twentieth-century poet, Dylan Thomas. I almost want to make this post about Thomas’s poems, because I think he is so terrific. Start reading this out loud:

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

Or this:

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

Or this, from his most famous poem (though my least favorite of the three):

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

But the case isn’t about Thomas’s poems, but about photographs of the poet. Pablo Star owned the copyright of several photographs, and it claimed that the Welsh government had infringed the copyright. I wrote about the case in March 2016, and I see that in the last post, I referenced the three poems I have quoted here, which I guess is just a way of saying I’m pretty clear in my own mind about my favorite Thomas poems. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Valambhia v. Tanzania

The case of the day is Valambhia v. United Republic of Tanzania (D.D.C. 2019). In 1985, the Tanzanian Ministry of Defense contracted with Transport Equipment Ltd. for tanks, troop carriers, and other military equipment. Tanzania paid the amount due under the contract for a few years through the Bank of Tanzania. In 1989, Transport Equipment entered into a contract with its director, Devram Valambhia, under which Valambhia would receive 45% of the contract revenue, and Tanzania acknowledged that agreement and promised to begin paying Valambhia. At first, Tanzania paid as promised, but it then began litigation in Tanzania aimed at proving that the contracts were unenforceable. The ultimate outcome was a judgment in Valambhia’s favor and even a garnishment order, but the Bank of Tanzania refused to honor it, leading ultimately to a finding that its Governor was in contempt of court. Valambhia died disappointed, and his heirs sought recognition and enforcement of the Tanzanian judgment in Washington. (more…)

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Read more about the article Case of the Day: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution v. ATS Specialized
Credit: Z22 (CC BY-SA)

Case of the Day: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution v. ATS Specialized

The case of the day is Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution v. ATS Specialized, Inc. (D. Mass. 2019). WHOI agreed to loan the Deep Sea Challenger, a submarine, to Australian National Maritime Museum. During transit, the submarine caught fire and was damaged. WHOI sued the museum, which is wholly owned by the Australian government, for breach of contract and on a bailment claim. The Museum moved to dismiss on FSIA grounds. The magistrate judge recommended denying the motion, and the court overruled the Museum’s objection. (more…)

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Read more about the article Case of the Day: Sudan v. Harrison
USS Cole after the attack. Credit: Sgt. Don L. Maes, USMC

Case of the Day: Sudan v. Harrison

The case of the day is Republic of Sudan v. Harrison (S. Ct. 2019). I’ve covered the case several times before; my post on the Second Circuit’s decision on Sudan’s petition for a rehearing was my most recent substantive look, and guest author Jared Hubbard reported more recently on the oral argument.

The case arose out of the bombing of the USS Cole. 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. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Jam v. International Finance Corp.

The case of the day is Jam v. International Finance Corp. (S. Ct. 2019). I wrote about the lower court decision back in June 2017. The claim was that the IFC, an international organization headquartered in Washington, had made loans to an Indian power company for construction of a coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, but that it had negligently failed to supervise the project. Local farmers and fishermen, and a local village, sued IFC in Washington on common law tort theories. The IFC moved to dismiss on the grounds that it was immune from suit under the International Organizations Immunities Act. The District Court and the D.C. Circuit held that IFC was indeed immune from suit, and the plaintiffs sought review in the Supreme Court. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Dahman v. Embassy of Qatar

The case of the day is Dahman v. Embassy of Qatar (D.D.C. 2019). I wrote about the case last year. El-Sayed Dahman, an accountant, worked for the Embassy of Qatar. The embassy terminated his employment, perhaps as a matter of policy due to his age, and he brought an action for age discrimination. So far, so good. There are, unfortunately, foreign governments that discriminate on the basis of age as a matter of policy when employing people in the United States, and the cases generally say that if the employee’s employment is “commercial” (factors can include the nationality of the worker, the nature of his or her duties, etc.), there is no FSIA immunity in such a case because of the commercial activity exception. (more…)

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Case of the Day: African Growth Corp. v. Angola

The case of the day is African Growth Corp. v. Republic of Angola (D.D.C. 2018). The plaintiff was a US company in the real estate business in Luanda, Angola’s capital. Its claim was that Gen. Antonio Andrade and his son, Capt. Miguel Kenehele, with their “heavily-armed security detail,” had wrongfully seized and occupied some of its properties. The plaintiff couldn’t get relief in the Angolan courts, because the government—through Gen. Andrade’s daughter, State Prosecutor Natasha Andrade Santos—refused to enforce the Angolan courts’ orders in favor of the plaintiff. In the old days, this would have been a case for novel disseisin. But these days, the case took the form of a lawsuit in the US District Court. The individual defendants failed to answer, and AGC sought a default judgment. (more…)

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Case of the Day: Edwards v. Nigeria

The case of the day is Edwards v. Federal Government of Nigeria (D. Mass. 2018). In 2013, hundreds of local governments in Nigeria sued the Nigerian federal government and three federal officials in the Federal High Court, seeking “to recover money allegedly owed to them.” Dr. Ted Iseghohi Edwards claimed that he was a consultant to the plaintiffs. the High Court entered a judgment in the local governments’ favor for more than $3 billion. (more…)

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