Justia U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Law
In re Application to Obtain Discovery for Use in Foreign Proceedings
In its 28 U.S.C. 1782(a) discovery application, ALJ sought a subpoena for documents from FedEx and deposition testimony of a FedEx corporate representative. ALJ alleged that FedEx Corp. was involved in contract negotiations and performance of two contracts between ALJ and FedEx International, a FedEx subsidiary. Each contract became the subject of commercial arbitration, one pending in Dubai, the other in Saudi Arabia. The arbitration in Saudi Arabia was dismissed. The district court denied ALJ’s application, holding that the phrase “foreign or international tribunal” in section 1782(a) did not encompass the arbitrations. The Sixth Circuit, reversed, noting that the Supreme Court provided guidance for interpretation of section 1782(a) in 2004. Considering the statutory text, the meaning of that text based on common definitions and usage of the language at issue, as well as the statutory context and history the court held that this provision permits discovery for use in the private commercial arbitration at issue. View "In re Application to Obtain Discovery for Use in Foreign Proceedings" on Justia Law
Jones v. IPX International Equatorial Guinea S.A.
Jones, a Michigan citizen, began working in Equatorial Guinea around 2007. In 2011, he started IPX to provide telecommunication services in Equatorial Guinea. IPX is incorporated and has its principal place of business in Equatorial Guinea. Jones was a shareholder, director, and employee, working as a Director-General under a contract, signed annually in Equatorial Guinea. He lived and worked there during the contract’s term. IPX decided in 2015 to open a U.S. subsidiary and sent Jones to Michigan. His work there was supposed to take six months. Jones would then return to Equatorial Guinea. After Jones arrived in Michigan, IPX learned that he may have stolen money and neglected important business relationships and suspended Jones. Jones claims that the suspension was a pretext to divest him of his stock. He sued for breach of contract in the Eastern District of Michigan. The court dismissed the complaint under forum non conveniens. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Equatorial Guinea is an available and adequate forum; IXP is subject to process there. Most of the witnesses and key documents are in Equatorial Guinea; witnesses can be compelled to testify there. Equatorial Guinean law governs under the underlying employment contract’s choice-of-law provision. There is strong evidence that Jones is not at home in the United States, negating the assumption that a U.S. court is most convenient for him. View "Jones v. IPX International Equatorial Guinea S.A." on Justia Law
United States v. Asgari
Asgari came to the U.S. for education, earning a doctorate in 1997. He returned to Iran and became a professor at Sharif University. His work involves transmission electron microscopy. Asgari traveled to the U.S. in 2011, stating on his visa application that he planned to visit New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles. He traveled to Cleveland to see an Iranian-American friend at Case Western’s Swagelok Center. They began collaborating. Asgari returned to Iran and obtained another visa for “temp[orary] business[/]pleasure,” identifying his destination as his son’s New York address. He applied for a job at Swagelok. The FBI investigated. The Center’s director stated that Asgari was on a sabbatical from Sharif University; that the Center conducted Navy-funded research; and that an opening had emerged on the project. Agent Boggs obtained a warrant to search Asgari’s personal email account for evidence that Asgari made materially false statements in his visa application and that Asgari violated the prohibition on exporting “any goods, technology, or services to Iran.” Based on information uncovered from that 2013 search, the government obtained another warrant to search Asgari’s subsequent emails. Indicted on 13 counts of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud, and visa fraud, Asgari successfully moved to suppress the evidence. The Sixth Circuit reversed, applying the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The affidavit was not “so skimpy, so conclusory, that anyone ... would necessarily have known it failed to demonstrate probable cause.” The sanctions on Iran are broad; probable cause is a lenient standard. View "United States v. Asgari" on Justia Law
United States v. Martirossian
Martirossian, a citizen of Armenia now living in China, refused to answer criminal charges, relating to money-laundering and conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. 1956, in the Southern District of Ohio. When his lawyers moved to dismiss the indictment, the court declared him a fugitive and refused to rule on the motion until he submitted himself to its jurisdiction. Martirossian appealed and in the alternative filed a mandamus petition asking the Sixth Circuit to order the district court to rule on his motion. The Sixth Circuit held that, because the district court’s decision is not a final order, it lacked jurisdiction over Martirossian’s appeal. Martirossian did not meet the high bar for granting the “extraordinary writ” of mandamus. Federal courts do not play “catch me if you can.” If a defendant refuses to appear to answer an indictment, ignores an arrest warrant, or leaves the jurisdiction, the court may decline to resolve any objections to the indictment in his absence. The “fugitive disentitlement doctrine” generally permits a federal court to insist on a defendant’s presence in the jurisdiction before it resolves challenges to the criminal charges. View "United States v. Martirossian" on Justia Law
Moreno v. Zank
Zank, a U.S. citizen, and Moreno, an Ecuadorian citizen, divorced and had joint custody of BLZ, born in Michigan in 2006. The decree prohibited Moreno from taking BLZ to Ecuador without prior notice to Zank. In 2009, Moreno took BLZ to Ecuador. Zank obtained a Michigan state court temporary sole custody order, contacted the State Department, and filled out a Hague Convention petition with the Embassy in Ecuador. Zank did not complete the process by filing the petition with the Ecuadorian courts. The State Department labeled Ecuador as noncompliant with its Hague Convention obligations. In Ecuador, Moreno enrolled BLZ in school. BLZ flourished, participating in extracurricular activities and making many friends. In 2010, Moreno permitted Zank to visit BLZ in Ecuador. Zank did not take BLZ to the Embassy or pursue a Hague Convention petition. Moreno obtained an ex parte order from an Ecuadorian court prohibiting BLZ from leaving the country. The parents eventually filed an agreement in Ecuador: Moreno received full legal custody and an increase in child support; Zank waived issues concerning BLZ's arrival in Ecuador. The "no travel" order was lifted. BLZ visited Zank in 2014. Moreno and Zank reiterated their agreement, for filing in the U.S.; it was filed in the wrong court. In 2016, BLZ visited Zank. Zank claims that BLZ told him that Moreno had physically abused her and that she did not wish to return to Ecuador. BLZ voiced a preference for living permanently with Zank. The Michigan court granted Zank custody. Moreno filed this Hague Convention petition in federal court, which held that the original abduction meant that Ecuador could not be the child’s habitual residence. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The proper remedy for the initial kidnapping was a Hague Convention petition in Ecuador, subject to applicable defenses, not self-help. View "Moreno v. Zank" on Justia Law
Anwar v. Dow Chemical Co.
Anwar, a U.S. citizen, was hired to work for MEG International in Dubai. Anwar alleges that, following her promotion, her supervisor, Ramachandran, began harassing her about working when she had young children; openly made comments about not needing highly-paid female employees; and expressed his disapproval of Anwar’s divorce, going so far as to meet with her husband. Anwar alleges that this culminated in her termination, one day after she initiated her divorce. Anwar sued in a Dubai court and obtained severance pay. She argues that Dubai’s courts could not provide a sufficient remedy for sex and marital status discrimination. Anwar filed a complaint in Michigan, alleging that she was impermissibly terminated because of her gender, religion, national origin, and marital status, citing Title VII; the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act; and breach contract. The district court dismissed claims against Ramachandran for lack of personal jurisdiction and opened discovery for limited purposes: Investigating Anwar’s allegations that MEG International does business as MEG America and that the MEGlobal subsidiaries act as a single entity and Anwar’s allegation that Ramachandran and other MEG managers are employed by Dow. Dow obtained a protective order to prohibit depositions. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal of all claims. Anwar did not allege facts, aside from those demonstrating possible macromanagement, that MEG International is the alter ego of MEG Americas. Under Michigan law, the separate entities will be respected unless “a contrary determination would be inequitable.” View "Anwar v. Dow Chemical Co." on Justia Law
Taglieri v. Monasky
Taglieri, a citizen of Italy, was studying in Chicago when he met Monasky, an American citizen. They married and together decided to move to Italy. Taglieri was licensed to practice medicine in Italy and would have had to meet onerous requirements to practice in the U.S.. Monasky had a fellowship in Milan. Monasky became pregnant. Monasky alleges that Taglieri was sexually abusive and frequently hit her. Taglieri acknowledges “smack[ing]” Monasky once. Taglieri’s work required frequent travel; Monasky encountered professional difficulties and did not speak much Italian. Monasky applied for jobs in the U.S., contacted divorce lawyers, and researched American childcare options. The couple also investigated Italian child-care. Monasky sought an Italian driver’s license; the two moved to a larger apartment under a lease in Monasky’s name. The couple disputes whether the ensuing weeks involved Monasky planning to stay or return to the U.S. After an argument, Monasky took baby A, sought refuge in a safe house, and left Italy with eight-week-old A. Taglieri obtained termination Monasky’s parental rights in Italy, and filed a petition in Ohio, seeking A's return. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that A’s habitual residence (the location that she should be returned to) was Italy, that Monasky had no definitive plans to return to the U.S. until the final altercation, and that the other Hague Convention requirements were satisfied: Taglieri had properly exercised his custody rights, A’s removal was wrongful, Monasky had not shown by clear and convincing evidence that Taglieri posed a grave risk of harm to A. If a child lives exclusively in one country, that country is presumed to be the child’s habitual residence. View "Taglieri v. Monasky" on Justia Law
Doe v. Etihad Airways, P.J.S.C.
Doe and her daughter flew aboard Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Chicago. During the journey, Doe’s tray table remained open because a knob had fallen off. Doe’s daughter found the knob on the floor; Doe placed it in a seatback pocket. When a flight attendant reminded Doe to place her tray in the locked position for landing, Doe attempted to explain by reaching into the seatback pocket to retrieve the knob. She was pricked by a hypodermic needle that lay hidden within, which drew blood. Doe sought damages from Etihad for her physical injury and her “mental distress, shock, mortification, sickness and illness, outrage and embarrassment from natural sequela of possible exposure to” various diseases. Her husband claimed loss of consortium. The court granted Etihad partial summary judgment, citing the Montreal Convention of 1999, an international treaty, which imposes capped strict liability “for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft.” The Sixth Circuit reversed. The district court erred in reading an additional “caused by” requirement into the treaty and concluding that Doe’s bodily injury did not cause her emotional and mental injuries. The Convention allows Doe to recover all her “damage sustained” from the incident. View "Doe v. Etihad Airways, P.J.S.C." on Justia Law
United States v. Fontana
Fontana, in his 50s, posed as a 16-year-old to chat with a 15-year-old female living near Detroit. Fontana claimed that his computer’s camera was broken and convinced his victim to take off her shirt. He recorded this act, then used the threat of publishing this recording online to force her to perform sexual acts, which he recorded and used as additional leverage. He forced her to be in front of her web camera at certain times, to sleep in a certain position, to ask for permission to go out, and to convince a 14-year-old friend to perform sexual acts for him. The girl’s mother contacted the police. Following extradition from Canada on 12 child pornography-related charges, Fontana pleaded guilty to four charges. Applying 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), the judge considered that, after Fontana’s arrest, investigators discovered images of up to 50 victims, including minors, none of whom were the basis for Fontana’s extradition. Fontana argued that consideration of the additional victims violated the U.S.-Canada extradition treaty’s “specialty” requirement that he only be detained, tried, or punished for the crimes for which he was extradited. The Sixth Circuit rejected the argument. The treaty does not preclude taking into account activity that is not the basis of the extradition in determining punishment for the crimes on which the extradition was based, at least as long as such consideration did not affect the statutory range of that punishment. View "United States v. Fontana" on Justia Law
United States v. $525,695.24
The government sought forfeiture (21 U.S.C. 881(a)(4),(6), (7); 18 U.S.C. 981) of bank accounts, real properties, vehicles, and $91,500 in U.S. currency, related to its investigation into Salouha and Sbeih. Salouha allegedly illegally sold prescription drugs through his Ohio pharmacies, 21 U.S.C. 841. Salouha and Sbeih allegedly laundered the receipts through their accounts, 18 U.S.C. 1956. Sbeih and his wife filed verified claims to seven of the personal bank accounts. Sbeih was indicted but failed to appear. The court issued an arrest warrant, lifted the stay on the civil forfeiture case and scheduled a status conference. Sbeih’s counsel sought permission for Sbeih not to attend, as he was in Israel. Sbeih alleged that he was in danger of losing his Jerusalem permanent residency permit if he left Israel. The court granted the motion. The government moved to strike Sbeih’s claim under the fugitive disentitlement statute, 28 U.S.C. 2466. The court waited to see whether the Salouhas, Sbeih’s codefendants, were able to reenter the country, but ultimately granted the government’s motion to strike Sbeih’s claim and ordered forfeiture. While section 2466 requires the government to prove that the claimants had a specific intent of avoiding criminal prosecution in deciding to remain outside the U.S., it does not require that that intent be the sole or principal intent. In this case, however, government did not meet its burden of proving that Sbeih was not returning to the U.S. to avoid prosecution View "United States v. $525,695.24" on Justia Law