Friday, December 6, 2013

Siderman De Blake v. Republic of Argentina case brief

Siderman De Blake v. Republic of Argentina case brief summary
965 F.2d 699 (9th Cir. 1992)

Plaintiffs, husband and wife, sought review of a judgment from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, which dismissed their action against defendant, the country of Argentina. Plaintiffs alleged that the Argentine military tortured plaintiff husband and expropriated plaintiffs' property.

Plaintiffs, husband and wife, alleged 18 causes of action against defendant Argentina arising out of the torture of plaintiff husband and the expropriation of their property by Argentine military officials. The district court ultimately dismissed on both issues.


  • The court vacated the judgment dismissing plaintiff's expropriation claims, holding that the claims fell within both the commercial activity and international takings exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C.S. §§ 1330, 1602-11. 
  • The court found that the district court erred in dismissing the expropriation claims on the basis of the act of state doctrine without first considering the threshold issue of subject matter jurisdiction. 
  • The court further held that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiffs' torture claims. 
  • Defendant waived its sovereign immunity with respect to those claims because defendant deliberately involved United States courts in its persecution of plaintiffs via a letter serving them with process.

The court reversed the decision dismissing plaintiff's, husband and wife, expropriation claims based of the act of state doctrine and remanded the matter for a more complete investigation of the jurisdictional basis for those claims. The court also reversed the decision dismissing plaintiff's torture claims and remanded the cause because defendant Argentina waived its sovereign immunity as to that issue.

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