Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in International Law
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Seeking evidence to use in a United Kingdom arbitration, Servotronics filed an application in the district court under 28 U.S.C. 1782 to obtain testimony from three Boeing employees residing in South Carolina. On appeal, Servotronics contends that the district court erred in ruling that the UK arbitral panel was not a "foreign tribunal" for purposes of section 1782 and thus it lacked authority to grant Servotronics' application to obtain testimony for use in the UK arbitration. The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the arbitral panel in the United Kingdom is a foreign tribunal for purposes of section 1782. The court explained that the current version of the statute, as amended in 1964, manifests Congress' policy to increase international cooperation by providing U.S. assistance in resolving disputes before not only foreign courts but before all foreign and international tribunals. The court wrote that such a policy was intended to contribute to the orderly resolution of disputes both in the United States and abroad, elevating the importance of the rule of law and encouraging a spirit of comity between foreign countries and the United States. Furthermore, Boeing's argument to the contrary represents too narrow an understanding of arbitration, whether it is conducted in the United Kingdom or the United States. View "Servotronics, Inc. v. The Boeing Co." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from litigation between SAS and WPL, software developers that compete in the market for statistical analysis software. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of an expansion injunction and an anti-clawback injunction issued pursuant to its All Writs Act authority. Although the court respected the judicial system and judges of the United Kingdom, the court explained that the district court here needed to ensure that a money judgment reached in an American court under American law—based on damages incurred in America—was not rendered meaningless. In this case, the district court chose to enforce its judgment in the most measured terms, concentrating on the litigants' U.S. conduct and collection efforts. The court wrote that failing to take even these modest steps would have encouraged any foreign company and country to undermine the finality of a U.S. judgment. View "SAS Institute, Inc. v. World Programming Ltd." on Justia Law

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Taxpayer filed a tax refund action against the United States, seeking a refund collected from him by the IRS pursuant to a treaty between the United States and Canada, for income taxes that he owed to Canada in 2006. After both countries executed the Convention Between the United States of America and Canada with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital, the Senate ratified it. Under Article 26A, which was later added to the treaty and ratified by the Senate, the United States and Canada agreed to assist each other with the collection of unpaid taxes. The court affirmed the district court's judgment and held that Article 26A merely facilitates collection of an already existing debt and thus did not violate the Origination Clause; Article 26A did not infringe on the Taxing Clause where the Taxing Clause is not an exclusive grant of power to Congress; and thus Article 26A did not require House-originating implementation legislation. The court also held that the IRS can use its domestic assessment authority in pursuit of the collection of a liability owed by a taxpayer to Canada. View "Retfalvi v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment after a jury found defendant civilly liable to plaintiff under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Plaintiff filed suit against defendant for her role in the sexual abuse that plaintiff suffered at the hands of defendant's husband when plaintiff worked as their housekeeper in housing provided by the Embassy of the United States in Yemen. The court held, in light of RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European Cmty., 136 S. Ct. 2090 (2016), that the TVPA's civil remedy provision applied to defendant's conduct in Yemen in 2007. The court confined its analysis to the text of 18 U.S.C. 1595 and held that section 1595 applied extraterritorially to defendant's conduct. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting another housekeeper's evidence concerning sexual abuse she suffered while working for defendant and her husband. View "Roe v. Howard" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2339A, and conspiring and attempting to destroy an aircraft of the United States Armed Forces, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 32. Defendant was convicted for acts associated with an attack on an Afghan Border Police post at Camp Leyza. As a preliminary matter, the court held that it had jurisdiction to determine whether defendant qualified as a POW and was entitled to combatant immunity under the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, irrespective of Army Regulation 190-8. On the merits, the court held that defendant was not entitled to combatant immunity under the Convention where the conflict in Afghanistan was not an international armed conflict. Consequently, because defendant did not qualify for combatant immunity pursuant to the Third Geneva Convention, he did not qualify for the common law defense of public authority. The court also held that section 32 clearly applied to otherwise lawful military actions committed during armed conflicts. In this case, defendant was convicted of attempting to fire anti-aircraft weapons at U.S. military helicopters, an attack that fell under the plain language of section 32. View "United States v. Hamidullin" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of litigation by family members of United States sailors killed in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole against the Republic of Sudan for its alleged support of Al Qaeda. The district court denied Sudan's motion to vacate default judgments entered against it. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's order, holding that plaintiffs' method of serving process did not comport with the statutory requirements of 28 U.S.C. 1608(a)(3), and thus the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over Sudan. The court remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Kumar the opportunity to perfect service of process. View "Kumar v. Republic of Sudan" on Justia Law

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Petitioner filed a petition for the return of her child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, 19 I.L.M. 1501, as implemented by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 22 U.S.C. 9001 et seq. The district court denied the petition. The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in finding that respondent was "more believable" and petitioner did not challenge that determination. The court agreed with the district court that the preponderance of the evidence demonstrated that petitioner consented to respondent's removal of the child to the United States. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Padilla v. Troxell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging that they forced her to provide labor in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. 1589. Specifically, plaintiff alleged six claims of involuntary servitude and illegal trafficking stemming from her work as a live-in housemaid to defendants. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. Drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of plaintiff, the court agreed with the district court's determination that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to satisfy the requirements of the forced labor statute and that defendants were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiff failed to develop sufficient evidence upon which a jury could reasonably conclude that defendants knowingly forced or coerced her to come to the United States, or to remain in their employ against her will, by means of serious psychological harm or abuse of law or legal process, when she otherwise would have left and returned to her home country of Kenya. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Muchira v. Al-Rawaf" on Justia Law

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The Foundation agreed to lend $2 million pursuant to a loan agreement to Al-Harmoosh for a company headquartered in Iraq. After Mohammed Harmoosh, a managing partner of the company, refused to pay the loan, the Foundation filed suit for breach of contract in Maryland. Harmoosh moved to dismiss based on an arbitration clause in the loan agreement. The district court dismissed the Foundation's complaint. The Foundation later filed another suit against Harmoosh to collect on the promissory note, this time in the Court of First Instance for Commercial Disputes in Baghdad. After the Foundation and Harmoosh litigated their dispute to final judgment in Iraq, the Foundation filed suit in the District of Maryland, seeking recognition of the Iraqi judgment under the Maryland Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. 10-701 et seq. The Foundation also alleged that Harmoosh fraudulently conveyed some of his assets both before and after the Iraqi judgment was rendered. The district court granted summary judgment to Harmoosh on the Maryland Recognition Act claim, and granted Harmoosh's motion to compel arbitration. The court held that judicial proceedings in a foreign court are not "contrary to" an arbitration clause for the purpose of the Maryland Recognition Act if the parties choose to forego their rights to arbitrate by paricipating in those proceedings. The court also concluded that the Foundation raised genuine issues of material fact that preclude a summary judgment holding that Harmoosh preserved his arbitration rights. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Iraq Middle Market Development v. Harmoosh" on Justia Law

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Father petitioned for the return of his children to Mexico pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, T.I.A.S. No. 11670, 19 I.L.M. 1501. The district court declined to order the children returned, and Father appealed. Reviewing the record facts as a whole, the court agreed with the district court that a preponderance of the facts establishes that Son has significant connections demonstrating a secure, stable, and permanent life in his new environment. Son is therefore “settled” within the meaning of the Convention. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s determination that Son is “settled” within the meaning of the Hague Convention and affirmed its decision not to exercise its discretion to order Son returned. View "Alcala v. Hernandez" on Justia Law