U.S. State Dept. Rejects Request from Nigerian Government to Support Its Sovereign Immunity Defense in ATS and TVPA Case

Ten plaintiffs from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have filed a federal lawsuit against 16 Nigerian officials for their complicity in the alleged extrajudicial killings of hundreds of its members who protested in the wake of arrest and detention of their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, in 2016.

The lawsuit is grounded on the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victims Protection Act.   Both laws allow U.S. courts to assert long-arm jurisdiction beyond America’s borders.

The defendants have moved to dismiss the suit based on the act of state doctrine, lack of jurisdiction and sovereign immunity.  In opposition, the plaintiffs have noted that the U.S. State Department rejected a request from the Nigerian government to intervene in the action and to recognize the defendants’ claims of sovereign immunity.

The case — John Doe, et al v. Tukur Yusuf Buratai et al, No. 17-Civ-01033 (ESH) —  is pending before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

 

Germany Finally Appears in Case Based on Colonial-Era Genocide in Namibia … And Promptly Moves to Dismiss

Between 1904 and 1907, the German Empire engaged in a campaign of racial extermination in German South West Africa, which today is the Republic of Namibia.  Upwards of100,000 Herero people and 10,000 Nama people were exterminated by the Germans.  It is considered the first genocide of the 20th century.

In early 2017, members of the Herero and Nama filed a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against Germany under the Alien Tort Statute, asserting that German colonial troops were responsible for the deaths, as well as for the taking and expropriation of Herero and Nama lands and other property without compensation, in violation of international law.  The name of the case is Rukoro, et al. v. Federal Republic of Germany.

The plaintiffs made several attempts to serve Germany through The Hague Service Convention, but Germany refused refused to accept service on procedural grounds. The plaintiffs consequently initiated diplomatic service on Germany by asking the U.S. State Department to send the summons and complaint directly to the German Foreign Ministry under diplomatic cover.  After their formal review of the matter, the U.S. State Department completed its service at the end of last year.

After fighting service of the summons and complaint for all of last year, Germany’ has recently accepted service of the complaint and appointed counsel to appear in the case.   On January 12, 2018, Germany filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.  The plaintiffs’ deadline for filing an amended complaint is February 14, 2018.

 

Ameer Benno Presents Lawline’s Second Annual SCOTUS Preview!

Last week, Erica Dubno and I presented Lawline’s Second Annual SCOTUS Preview.  We addressed the following critical cases that are to be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in its 2018 Term:

  • Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
  • Gill v. Whitford
  • Class v. U.S.
  • Jesner v. Arab Bank
  • McCoy v. Louisiana
  • Christie v. NCAA
  • Carpenter v. U.S.
  • Jennings v. Rodriguez

If you missed the live webcast, you can watch the two-hour presentation On Demand by clicking here!

Phillipine Court of Appeals Refuses to Enforce $2 Billion Judgment Awarded by a U.S. Court in ATS and TVPA Case

The Court of Appeals of the Philippines has upheld its earlier decision against the enforcement of a Hawaii federal district court’s judgment granting Martial Law victims under the Marcos regime almost $2 billion in damages.

In refusing to enforce the judgment, the Philippines appellate court held that the case, which was a class action suit filed by 10,000 victims against the Marcos estate, gave “no opportunity for the … Estate [of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos] to confront each and every claimant,” and therefore the judgment was obtained in violation of Marcos’ constitutional due process rights.  The court declared that “rules of comity should not be made to prevail over our constitution.”

The Court of Appeals also concluded that the judgment against Marcos’ estate was “constitutionally infirm” because, although the complaint was filed under the Alien Torts Statute, the judgment was imposed under the Torture Victim Protection Act.

Ratings and Reviews