Friday, December 6, 2013

W.S. Kirkpatrick and Co. v. Environmental Tectonics Corp., International case brief

W.S. Kirkpatrick and Co. v. Environmental Tectonics Corp., International case brief summary
493 U.S. 400 (1990)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Respondent, an unsuccessful bidder for a Nigerian contract, filed suit against petitioners, a contractor awarded a Nigerian contract, a Nigerian citizen, and others, claiming that the award of the contract was achieved through bribery. The district court ruled that the action was barred by the act of state doctrine. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the district court ruling. Petitioners sought review.

CASE FACTS
Petitioner contractor sought a government construction contract with Nigeria and paid bribes in the form of "commissions" to entities owned by the Nigerian citizen who aided in obtaining the contract. Respondent, an unsuccessful bidder, learned of the "commission" and brought the matter to the attention of the Nigerian and the United States governments. Charges were brought against petitioner contractor, who pleaded guilty to them. Respondent then brought a civil action in federal court against petitioner, and others, seeking damages under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 1961 et seq., and the Robinson-Patman Act, 49 Stat. 1526, 15 U.S.C.S. § 13 et seq. Petitioners moved to dismiss the complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) on the ground that the action was barred by the act-of-state doctrine.
The court treated the motion as one for summary judgment and granted it.

DISCUSSION
On appeal, the judgment was reversed and remanded for trial. Certiorari was granted and the court affirmed the appellate court and held that the act-of-state doctrine had no application to the case because the validity of no foreign sovereign act was at issue.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the appellate court and held that the act-of-state doctrine had no application to the case because the validity of no foreign sovereign act was at issue.


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1 comment:

  1. Case Brief: W.S. Kirkpatrick and Co. v. Environmental Tectonics Corp., International
    Citation: 493 U.S. 400 (1990)

    Kirkpatrick and ETC were both trying to win a construction contract in Nigeria. ETC won the bidding by bribing Nigerian officials.
    Bribery is technically illegal in Nigeria.
    Kirkpatrick sued ETC in US Federal Court for damages.
    ETC claimed that since the contract was an official act of the country of Nigeria, suits in United States Courts were barred by the Act of State Doctrine.
    The Trial Court dismissed the case and Kirkpatrick appealed.
    The Trial Court found that the suit was barred by the Act of State Doctrine.
    The Court found that a judicial inquiry into the motivation of a sovereign act may result in embarrassment to the sovereign, or may constitute interference with the conduct of US foreign policy.
    The Court also found that allowing Kirkpatrick to make a bribery claim would require a finding that foreign officials were criminals, and such a finding may embarrass the Executive Branch in its conduct of foreign relations.
    The Appellate Court reversed and ETC appealed.

    SUPREME COURT'S RULING
    The US Supreme Court affirmed and allowed the case to proceed.
    The US Supreme Court found that the Act of State Doctrine did not apply because nothing in the suit required a court to declare the official act of a foreign sovereign invalid.
    "The Act of State Doctrine does not establish an exception for cases and controversies that may embarrass foreign governments, but merely requires that, in the process of deciding, the acts of foreign sovereigns taken within their own jurisdiction shall deemed valid."

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