Servotronics, INC., v. Rolls-Royce PLC & The Boeing Co.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Date Filed: March 22, 2021
  • Case #: 20-794
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 975 F.3d 689 (7th Cir. 2020)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the discretion granted to district courts in 28 U.S.C. §1782(a) to render assistance in gathering evidence for use in “a foreign or international tribunal” encompasses private commercial arbitral tribunals, as the Fourth and Sixth Circuits have held, or excludes such tribunals without expressing an exclusionary intent, as the Second, Fifth, and, in the case below, the Seventh Circuit, have held.

Respondents, Rolls-Royce and Boeing, and Petitioner, Servotronics, began arbitrating a jet engine fire allegedly caused by Servotronic’s components which resulted in damage to Boeing’s aircraft. Petitioner attempted to serve Respondents with a subpoena in the Northern District of Illinois to obtain discovery for use in an international arbitration pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1782(a). Respondent objected and moved to quash. The Seventh Circuit denied the Petitioner’s request to issue the subpoena, thus, Petitioner appeals. Because there is a split amongst Circuit Courts interpreting the phrase “foreign or international tribunal” used in Section 1782, this case postures itself as a vehicle to resolve a 3-2 split and determine if Section 1782 includes private international arbitration. Petitioner argues that the split currently results in dissimilar rulings amongst the district courts across the country. Second, Petitioner argues that the question presented is narrowly tailored to provide a uniform rule for the district courts to rely on. Further arguing that this issue is important because of the ever-increasing focus on alternative dispute resolution. Finally, if the split is the result of an ambiguity in the drafting, the canons of statutory interpretation support the conclusion that Congress intended to include private arbitration within the definition of “tribunal.”

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