Friday, December 6, 2013

Banco Nacional De Cuba v. Sabbatino case brief

Banco Nacional De Cuba v. Sabbatino case brief summary
376 U.S. 398 (1964)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner appealed order of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which granted summary judgment against petitioner finding that a taking was invalid under international law, did not convey good title, and that petitioner's conversion claim had no basis.

CASE FACTS
Petitioner instituted an action alleging conversion of bills of lading. Petitioner's claims were founded on a decree of the Government of Cuba expropriating certain property. Petitioner's claim of conversion rested upon the question of Cuba's title to that property. The district court found the act of state doctrine to be inapplicable when the questioned foreign act was in violation of international law. The district court and the court of appeals found that a taking invalid under international law did not convey good title and granted summary judgment against petitioner. Petitioner appealed.

DISCUSSION

  • The Supreme Court held that the act of state doctrine precluded United States courts from inquiring into the validity of the public acts that a recognized foreign sovereign power committed within its own territory. 
  • The Court further found that the scope of the act of state doctrine must be determined according to federal law, and the doctrine proscribed a challenge to the validity of the Cuban expropriation decree. Therefore, the Court found that any counterclaim based on asserted invalidity must fail.

CONCLUSION

The Supreme Court reversed judgment of the court of appeals and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. The Court held that the act of state doctrine proscribed a challenge to the validity of the Cuban expropriation act, therefore summary judgment against petitioner was inappropriate.

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