Articles Posted in International Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
Faisal is a citizen of the United Kingdom, residing in London. Mardia is a U.S. citizen. They married in Bangladesh in 2009, while Mardia was a student in Michigan. She remained in Michigan to complete her studies. In 2011, Mardia moved to London; in 2013 she applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain, In 2014, Mardia, then pregnant, traveled to Knoxville, where she had lived previously. The couple disputes whether she intended to return to the UK. Faisal traveled to Knoxville on a three-month visa. Mardia gave birth to twins in Knoxville and the family moved into an apartment. Faisal’s visa expired; he returned to London. Mardia insists she told him then that she intended to remain in the U.S. with the children. Faisal visited the U.S. in April 2015. The next month, the entire family traveled to the UK. The parties dispute their intentions. In July 2015, Mardia traveled with the children to Bangladesh. Their tickets indicated they were scheduled to return to London on August 5. Mardia claims she told her husband that she would not return. Faisal claims he did not learn her plans until August 4, when she flew to Knoxville with the children. He sought their return under the Hague Convention, as implemented by 22 U.S.C. 9001. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of Faisal’s petition, finding that he failed to establish that the UK was the children’s habitual residence at the time Mardia retained them. View "Ahmed v. Ahmed" on Justia Law

by
In 2014-2015, Schmückle, a German citizen living in Germany, served as MAG Group’s CEO and managing director of MAG Germany. In 2015, MAG Holdings and MAG US sued (in Michigan) for breach of fiduciary duty, professional negligence, waste of corporate assets, unjust enrichment, and tortious interference under Michigan law. In response to a challenge to jurisdiction, plaintiffs alleged that Schmückle “transacted business” within Michigan and that his “actions and activities led to consequences” in Michigan. Plaintiffs asserted that: Schmückle was responsible for “worldwide operations,” including MAG US; they (Michigan residents) reported directly to Schmückle by email and phone; Schmückle was involved in determining the Michigan facility's operations, budgets, work flow, and sales priorities; he charged MAG US an annual fee, used to pay part of his salary and expenses; he reallocated work from the “consistently profitable” Michigan facility to the “less-profitable” MAG Germany operations and negatively affected the profitability of MAG US in Michigan; and he told MAG US leaders to prepare to transfer $10 million to MAG Germany. Schmückle allegedly visited Michigan twice as CEO, maintains a residence in Oregon, and sits on the boards of U.S.-based three companies. The district court, without holding an evidentiary hearing, dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Sixth Circuit reversed, stating that the record did not overcome the presumption that exercising personal jurisdiction over Schmückle in Michigan was reasonable. View "MAG IAS Holdings, Inc. v. Schmückle" on Justia Law

by
Hayes, a U.S. citizen, married Pliego, a Spanish diplomat. Their child was born in 2011. In 2012, the family moved to Turkey, where Pliego served in the Spanish embassy. In 2014, Hayes took the child to Kentucky, stating she would not return. Pliego sought the child’s return under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 22 U.S.C. 9001–9011 (ICARA), which implements the Hague Abduction Convention. The district court determined the child’s country of habitual residence was Turkey and that removal of the child violated Pliego’s joint custody rights under Turkish law. Convention Article 13(b) creates a defense to a child’s return if “there is a grave risk” of “physical or psychological harm” or “an intolerable situation.” Hayes alleged, and Pliego denied, that Pliego had abused her and the child. The court concluded that the evidence of “physical or psychological harm” was not “clear and convincing.” Pliego and the child returned to Turkey. Hayes followed and obtained temporary custody from a Turkish court. That court subsequently dismissed the temporary custody order based on Pliego’s diplomatic status, but Hayes and the child had fled to the United States. Pliego filed his second ICARA petition; the court granted Pliego temporary custody while Pliego waived diplomatic immunity to seek permanent custody in Turkey. During visitation, Hayes photographed bruises on the child; she alleged that Turkish courts could not protect the child due to Pliego’s diplomatic status. The court found credible Pliego’s and his mother’s testimony that the “bruises” were actually mosquito bites, held that custody litigation could proceed in Turkey, held that Hayes had failed to make out a defense under Article 13(b), and awarded Pliego $100,471.18 in fees and costs. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The Spanish government’s waiver of Pliego’s diplomatic immunity sufficiently permits the Turkish courts to adjudicate custody. View "Pliego v. Hayes" on Justia Law

by
The American husband and German wife have lived together in Germany since 2002. They sought damages for complications that arose when a surgical stapler manufactured in Mexico by an American corporation, Ethicon, allegedly malfunctioned during a 2012 surgery that husband underwent in Germany. An Ohio district court dismissed on the ground of forum non conveniens in favor of litigating in Germany. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Where a district court has considered all relevant public- and private-interest factors, and has reasonably balanced those factors, its decision deserves substantial deference. Private-interest factors include the relative ease of access to sources of proof; availability of compulsory process and the cost of obtaining witnesses; possibility of view of premises, id appropriate; and all other practical problems. Public-interest factors include administrative difficulties from court congestion; the local interest in the controversy’; the interest in having the trial in a forum that is at home with the law that governs the action; and the unfairness of burdening citizens in an unrelated forum with jury duty. The court here correctly concluded that Ethicon met its burden of showing that if the case remained in Ohio, the vexation it would endure and trouble to the court would be disproportionate to the plaintiffs’ minimal convenience. View "Hefferan v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Cruz was to host a party in his village in Oaxaca, Mexico on New Year’s Day 2006. He went to the municipal hall to deliver invitations, where a man approached and shot him and a bystander. Both men died. The murderer fled the scene. Cruz’s family accused Martinez, then a U.S. permanent resident (a citizen since 2010) whose family lived in the village. Cruz’s widow and parents met with Martinez’s wife and brother before a town clerk and signed an agreement stating that Martinez had “committed the homicide” and that “the family of the perpetrator” would pay 50,000 pesos for “the expenses incurred,” so that “the matter shall be closed.” Days later, two eyewitnesses made sworn statements identifying Martinez as the murderer. An Oaxacan judge issued an arrest warrant. Martinez returned to Tennessee. In 2009, an American consular official asked about the status of Martinez’s arrest warrant. The Oaxacan court responded that it was “still pending and executable.” In 2012, the Mexican government filed a diplomatic note with the State Department, requesting his “provisional arrest” pursuant to the extradition treaty between the two nations. U.S. authorities arrested Martinez about a year later; Mexican officials filed a formal extradition request in 2013. Complying with the procedures identified in 18 U.S.C. 3184-3186, the Secretary of State filed the request with a federal magistrate judge, who certified that Martinez could be extradited. The Sixth Circuit affirmed rejection of Martinez’s habeas corpus action. The extradition will not violate the statute of limitations or his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. View "Cruz-Martinez v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Bašić, a Balkan native, came to the U.S. in 1994 as a refugee to escape the civil war that was tearing Yugoslavia apart. She settled in Kentucky and became a naturalized citizen. She is now accused in Bosnia, one of Yugoslavia’s successor states, of crimes committed against ethnic Serbs during the war while Bašić was a member of the Croatian army. Bosnia asked the U.S. to extradite Bašić for trial. The Department of State filed a Complaint for Extradition in 2011. A Magistrate Judge certified the complaint, concluding that Bašić was extraditable under a 1902 treaty between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Serbia, 32 Stat. 1890. Direct appeal is not available in extradition proceedings, so Bašić filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2241. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial, rejecting arguments that the Treaty prohibits extradition of U.S. citizens to Bosnia and that the Bosnian government failed to produce a warrant for Bašić’s arrest as required by the Treaty. View "Bašic v. Steck" on Justia Law

by
A guest at Ohio social gathering, Grimm, brought a rifle and ammunition to the Sunbury house, where he assembled and invited guests to shoot. At Grimm's direction, Rote loaded the rifle; before the bolt moved into a closed-and-secured position, the round exploded and a “loud sound” was heard. Rote sustained severe damage to his right hand. The round that exploded came from a box bearing marks identifying it as being manufactured by DGFM. The allegedly defective ammunition was purchased online through a New Jersey-based company. Rote and his wife filed a negligence and products-liability suit against several defendants, including DGFM. DGFM argued that, as an instrumentality of the Republic of Argentina, it is immune from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1602. The district court denied its motion to dismiss, finding that the “commercial activity” exception to the Act applies. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, stating that the design and manufacture of a product constitutes a “commercial activity” under the FSIA and that a court need not find that a foreign state has minimum contacts with the United States in order to conclude that the state’s acts have a direct effect here. View "Rote v. Zel Custom Mfg., LLC" on Justia Law