103 F.3d 767 (9th Cir. 1996), 95-15779, Hilao v. Estate of Marcos

Docket Nº:95-15779.
Citation:103 F.3d 767
Party Name:Serv. 9090, 96 Daily Journal D.A.R. 15,085 Maximo HILAO, Class Plaintiffs, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ESTATE OF Ferdinand MARCOS, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:December 17, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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103 F.3d 767 (9th Cir. 1996)

Serv. 9090,

96 Daily Journal D.A.R. 15,085

Maximo HILAO, Class Plaintiffs, Plaintiff-Appellee,


ESTATE OF Ferdinand MARCOS, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 95-15779.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

December 17, 1996

Argued and Submitted June 18, 1996.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Mark Lane, Washington, D.C., for defendant-appellant.

Robert A. Swift, Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Jon M. Van Dyke, Honolulu, Hawai'i, for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Hawai'i; Manuel L.

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Real, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. MDL-00840.

Before: FLETCHER, PREGERSON and RYMER, Circuit Judges.


FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:

The Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos appeals from a final judgment entered against it in a class-action suit after a trifurcated jury trial on the damage claims brought by a class of Philippine nationals (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Hilao") who were victims of torture, "disappearance", or summary execution under the regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos. We have jurisdiction over the appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and we affirm.


This case arises from human-rights abuses--specifically, torture, summary execution, and "disappearance"--committed by the Philippine military and paramilitary forces under the command of Ferdinand E. Marcos during his nearly 14-year rule of the Philippines. The details of Marcos' regime and the human-rights abuses have been set forth by the district court at 910 F.Supp. 1460, 1462-63 (D.Haw.1995).


Shortly after Marcos arrived in the United States in 1986 after fleeing the Philippines, he was served with complaints by a number of parties seeking damages for human-rights abuses committed against them or their decedents. District courts in Hawai'i and California dismissed the complaints on the grounds that the "act of state" doctrine rendered the cases nonjusticiable. This court reversed in consolidated appeals. Trajano v. Marcos, 878 F.2d 1439 (9th Cir.1989). The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the various actions in the District of Hawai'i.

In 1991, the district court certified the Hilao case as a class action, defining the class as all civilian citizens of the Philippines who, between 1972 and 1986, were tortured, summarily executed, or "disappeared" by Philippine military or paramilitary groups; the class also included the survivors of deceased class members. Certain plaintiffs opted out of the class and continued, alongside the class action, to pursue their cases directly.

A default judgment was entered in 1991 against Marcos' daughter, Imee Marcos-Manotoc, upon one of the direct plaintiffs' complaints. That judgment was appealed to this court, which affirmed the district court in 1992, rejecting arguments that Marcos-Manotoc was entitled to foreign sovereign immunity and that the district court lacked jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Trajano v. Marcos (In re Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos Human Rights Litigation), 978 F.2d 493 (9th Cir.1992) ("Estate I "), cert. denied, 508 U.S. 972, 113 S.Ct. 2960, 125 L.Ed.2d 661 (1993).

Marcos died during the pendency of the actions, and his wife Imelda Marcos and son Ferdinand R. Marcos, as his legal representatives, were substituted as defendants.

In November 1991, the district court issued a preliminary injunction that prohibited the Estate from transferring, dissipating, or encumbering any of its assets. The Estate appealed from the preliminary injunction, and this court affirmed, rejecting arguments on foreign sovereign immunity, on abatement of the action upon the death of Marcos, on the district court's lack of authority to enter the injunction, and on subject-matter jurisdiction and cause of action under the Alien Tort Claims Act. Hilao v. Marcos (In re Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos Human Rights Litigation), 25 F.3d 1467 (9th Cir.1994) ("Estate II "), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 115 S.Ct. 934, 130 L.Ed.2d 879 (1995). 1

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The district court ordered issues of liability and damages tried separately. In September 1992, a jury trial was held on liability; after three days of deliberation, the jury reached verdicts against the Estate and for the class and for 22 direct plaintiffs and a verdict for the Estate and against one direct plaintiff. Judgment was entered and the preliminary injunction modified to take account of the verdict.

The district court then ordered the damage trial bifurcated into one trial on exemplary damages and one on compensatory damages. The court ordered that notice be given to the class members that they must file a proof-of-claim form in order to opt into the class. Notice was provided by mail to known claimants and by publication in the Philippines and the U.S.; over 10,000 forms were filed.

In February 1994, the same jury that had heard the liability phase of the trial considered whether to award exemplary damages. After two days of evidence and deliberations, the jury returned a verdict against the Estate in the amount of $1.2 billion.

The court appointed a special master to supervise proceedings related to the compensatory-damage phase of the trial in connection with the class. In January 1995, the jury reconvened a third time to consider compensatory damages. The compensatory-damage phase of the trial is explained in greater detail below. After seven days of trial and deliberation, the jury returned a compensatory-damage award for the class of over $766 million; after two further days of trial and deliberation, the jury returned compensatory-damage awards in favor of the direct plaintiffs.

On February 3, 1995, the district court entered final judgment in the class action suit. The Estate appeals from this judgment.


The district court exercised jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350. The existence of subject-matter jurisdiction is a question of law reviewed de novo. Valdez v. United States, 56 F.3d 1177, 1179 (9th Cir.1995).

The Estate argues that this case does not "arise under" federal law for Article III purposes and therefore the federal courts cannot constitutionally exercise jurisdiction. This court has twice rejected these arguments in Estate I and Estate II. See 978 F.2d at 501-503, 25 F.3d at 1472-74. The published decisions in those cases are both the controlling law of the circuit and the law of this case. The Estate has presented no compelling arguments that the law has changed in the interim or that the two previous decisions of this court were "clearly erroneous and would work a manifest injustice". Leslie Salt Co. v. United States, 55 F.3d 1388, 1393 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 116 S.Ct. 407, 133 L.Ed.2d 325 (1995). We therefore decline to reconsider the Estate's arguments and instead follow the court's prior decisions as the law of the circuit and of the case.

The Estate also argues that the Alien Tort Claims Act does not apply to conduct that occurs abroad and that all of the acts on which Hilao's judgment is based occurred within the Philippines. Again, however, this court rejected the argument when the Estate made it in a prior appeal. See Estate I, 978 F.2d at 499-501 ("[S]ubject-matter jurisdiction was not inappropriately exercised under § 1350 even though the actions of Marcos-Manotoc which caused a fellow citizen to be the victim of official torture and murder occurred outside of the United States."). The Estate has offered no arguments for why we should not follow that decision as the law of the circuit and of the case, and we therefore decline to reconsider that decision.


I. Statute of Limitations

The Estate argues that the district court erred in not subjecting Hilao's claims

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to a two-year statute of limitations. The question of the appropriate statute of limitations is a question of law that we review de novo. Mendez v. Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Indus. Co., 52 F.3d 799, 800 (9th Cir.1995).

The Alien Tort Claims Act does not contain a statute of limitations. The Estate argues, therefore, that the courts should follow the general practice of adopting an analogous state statute of limitations if such adoption would not be inconsistent with federal law or policy. Because the Alien Tort Claims Act involves, as its title suggests, torts, and because the case was heard in the District of Hawai'i, the Estate argues that Hawai'i's two-year statute of limitations for tort claims should apply. The Estate argues alternatively that the appropriate statute of limitations might be that imposed by Philippine law, which appears to require that claims for personal injury arising out the exercise by a public officer of authority arising from martial law be brought within one year. Philippine Civil Code, Art. 1146. Hilao argues that the ten-year statute of limitations in the Torture Victim Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350 (note, § 2(c)) (the TVPA), is the most closely analogous federal statue of limitations, and cites to a recent district court case applying that limit to claims under both the Alien Tort Claims Act and the TVPA. See Xuncax v. Gramajo, 886 F.Supp. 162, 192 (D.Mass.1995). Alternatively, Hilao points to the conclusion in Estate II that a claim under the Alien Tort Claims Act is closely analogous to a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 25 F.3d at 1476 (citing Forti v. Suarez-Mason, 672 F.Supp. 1531, 1548-50 (N.D.Cal.1987)), and argues that the jurisprudence on statutes of limitations...

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