No port for $26 million arbitration award in shipping dispute

Denied enforcement of a $26 million arbitration award in China’s Fujian Province (that court finding the award invalid because an arbitrator was imprisoned during the proceedings), the plaintiff sought recognition in the Eastern District of Louisiana.  First Investment Corp. of the Marshall Islands v. Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding,  No. 12-30377 (Dec. 21, 2012, revised Jan. 17, 2013). The Fifth Circuit affirmed dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction with three holdings: (1) the recent case of Goodyear Dunlop Tires v. Brown, 131 S. Ct. 2846 (2011), removed doubt as to whether foreign corporations could invoke due process protection about jurisdiction; (2) the New York Convention did not abrogate those rights; and (3) no “alter ego” relationship among the relevant companies was shown that could give rise to jurisdiction.  In a companion case, the Court affirmed a ruling that denied jurisdictional discovery based on “sparse allegations” of alter ego.    Covington Marine v. Xiamen Shipbuilding, No. 12-30383 (Dec. 21, 2012); cf.Blake Box v. Dallas Mexican Consulate, No. 11-10126 (Aug. 21, 2012) (reversing jurisdictional discovery ruling).

Abuse of discretion to not allow response to motion to quash

Texas Keystone v. Prime Natural Resources began as an application for U.S. discovery in support of an English court case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782.  After review of that statute and its relationship with Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 once discovery is ordered, the Court found an abuse of discretion when the trial court granted the respondents’ Motion to Quash without a response from the party requesting discovery.  Id. at 10-13 (citing Sandsend Financial Consultants v. FLHBB, 878 F.2d 875 (5th Cir. 1989) and Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 392 F.2d 812 (5th Cir. 2004)).  The Court’s analysis of section 1782, intended to guide the district court on remand, also provides general background for future discovery requests in the Circuit under that statute.