Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

Solicitor General Recommends Denial of Cert in FSIA Case

Is a foreign government’s purchase of military equipment a “commercial activity” for purposes of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act’s (FSIA) commercial activity exception? In a brief filed on May 14, 2024, at the Supreme Court’s invitation, the Solicitor General (SG) answered “it depends.” This answer is surprising. It is in considerable tension—if not outright conflict—with…

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The Challenges of Suing Under JASTA

Foreign states may be sued in the United States only to the extent permitted by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Over the years, Congress has amended the statute to create several exceptions to immunity for terrorism-related lawsuits, especially for those brought against states designated as “state sponsors of terrorism.”  But only a very small…

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It Is Harder Than It Looks to Sue State Sponsors of Terrorism

Rotem and Yoav Golan were injured in a 2015 terrorist attack in Israel when an assailant deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people. The Golans and their family sued Iran and Syria for various torts and for aiding and abetting a terrorist attack. Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the U.S. District Court for…

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A Legislative Fix for the Cassirer Case?

Regular TLB readers may be familiar with the Cassirer case seeking to recover a painting by Camille Pissarro that was stolen by the Nazis and is now in the possession of a Spanish museum. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation (2022) that federal courts must apply state choice-of-law rules to…

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Second Circuit Hears Halkbank Oral Argument

On February 28, 2024, the Second Circuit heard oral argument in United States v. Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. From the judges’ questions—which admittedly came almost exclusively from Judge Bianco—the panel seems likely to hold that Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, is not immune under federal common law from criminal prosecution for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. That…

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What Does Customary International Law Say About Halkbank’s Immunity?

Tomorrow, the Second Circuit will hear argument in United States v. Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. to consider whether Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank (but not its central bank), is immune from criminal prosecution for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Halkbank claimed immunity under both the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and federal common law. The U.S….

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More Choice of Law in Terrorism Cases

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (DDC) hears a lot of state-sponsored terrorism cases. The plaintiffs in these cases typically assert a cause of action under 28 U.S.C. § 1605A(c). This action is, however, only available to individuals who are either (1) a U.S. national, (2) a U.S. servicemember, (3) a U.S….

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Ninth Circuit Gets Tangled Up in Minimum Contacts and Due Process

Do the Fifth Amendment’s due process protections require minimum contacts? And do those protections apply to foreign states sued under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA)? Those are the fundamental questions on which Ninth Circuit judges offered differing approaches as they resolved a recent petition for rehearing en banc. Regular TLB readers may recall that…

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Further Thoughts About Missouri’s COVID Suit Against China

As previously discussed at TLB, the Eighth Circuit recently held that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not shield the People’s Republic of China from suit on one of the claims that Missouri has brought against it arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the court of appeals held that Missouri could move forward with…

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Missouri’s COVID Suit Against China Revived

The Eighth Circuit has breathed life back into Missouri’s attempts to hold the People’s Republic of China (PRC) responsible in U.S. court for the COVID-19 pandemic. Missouri filed this claim in April 2020 and, as Chimène Keitner outlined at the time, the case is rife with Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) issues. This latest decision…

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Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk

Vanderbilt Law School
ingrid.wuerth@vanderbilt.eduEmail

William Dodge

UC Davis School of Law
wsdodge@ucdavis.eduEmail

Maggie Gardner

Cornell Law School
mgardner@cornell.eduEmail

John F. Coyle

University of North Carolina School of Law
jfcoyle@email.unc.eduEmail

Zachary D. Clopton

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
zclopton@law.northwestern.eduEmail

Matt Slovin

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Noah Buyon

Duke University School of Law
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Will Moon

University of Maryland
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William K. McGoughran

Vanderbilt Law School
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Chimène Keitner

UC Davis School of Law
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Catherine Amirfar

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
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Justin R. Rassi

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
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Isabelle Glimcher

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
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Ben Köhler

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law
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Aaron D. Simowitz

Willamette University College of Law
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