- Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
- Area(s) of Law: Sovereign Immunity
- Date Filed: July 2, 2020
- Case #: 19-351
- Judge(s)/Court Below: 894 F.3d 406 (DC Cir 2018)
- Full Text Opinion
In 1934, art pieces (“Collection”) were sold to the Prussian state. In 2008, heirs (“Respondents”) asserted the sale as invalid under duress. Pursuant to international law (“Washington Principles”) requiring alternative dispute resolution, the matter was put to arbitration, where the sale was found to be equitable and without duress. Respondents sued in district court. The court denied Petitioners’ motion to dismiss. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed and held that, under FSIA’s “expropriation exception,” even an otherwise legitimate taking can fall within United States jurisdiction “where… [it] amounted to the commission of genocide.” See 28 U.S.C. §1605(a)(3). Petitioner raises two assignments of error on appeal to the Supreme Court. First, the court misconstrued FSIA’s “expropriation exception.” Petitioner contends that the exception allows U.S. courts jurisdiction over foreign takings of U.S. citizens, but not over takings domestic to another government; here, the Collection sale was domestic to Germany because it was conducted between German citizens and the German state and on German soil. Because the FSIA exception is inapplicable, sovereign immunity forecloses the matter. Second, Petitioner argues that the principle of comity requires U.S. courts to forgo judgement on the matter until it is settled in German courts whom are also subject to Washington Principles.