665 F.3d 384 (2nd Cir. 2011), 09-3925, Figueiredo Ferraz E Engenharia de Projeto Ltda. v. Republic of Peru
|Docket Nº:||Docket 09-3925-cv (L), 10-1612-cv (CON).|
|Citation:||665 F.3d 384|
|Opinion Judge:||JON O. NEWMAN, Circuit Judge:|
|Party Name:||FIGUEIREDO FERRAZ E ENGENHARIA DE PROJETO LTDA., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. The REPUBLIC OF PERU, Ministerio De Vivienda, Construccion y Saneamiento, Programa Agua Para Todos (PAPT) (successor by integration to Programa De Apoyo A La Reforma Del Sector Saneamiento (PARSSA), formerly known as Proyecto Especial Programa Nacional De Agua Potable & Alcanta|
|Attorney:||Juan C. Basombrio, New York, NY (Mark S. Sullivan, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan and Morgan C. Hilpert, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, New York, NY, on the brief), for Defendants-Appellants. Thomas J. Hall, New York, NY (Robert E. Grossman, Paige M. Willan, Chadbourne & Parke LLP, New York, NY, on the brief), fo...|
|Judge Panel:||Before: NEWMAN, WINTER and LYNCH, Circuit Judges. Judge LYNCH dissents with a separate opinion. GERARD E. LYNCH, Circuit Judge, dissenting:|
|Case Date:||December 14, 2011|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit|
Heard: Oct. 19, 2010.
Submitted: June 22, 2011.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
This is an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a motion to dismiss, primarily on the ground of forum non conveniens (" FNC" ), a petition seeking confirmation of an international arbitration award. A principal public interest factor to be weighed in assessing the FNC claim is a Peruvian statute that limits the amount of money that an agency of the Peruvian government may pay annually to satisfy a judgment. The limit is three percent of the agency's annual budget.1 The Republic of Peru (" the Republic" ), the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation (" the Ministry" ), and the Programa Agua Para Todos (" the Program" )— collectively " the Appellants" — appeal from the September 8, 2009, order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (William H. Pauley III, District Judge), denying their motion to dismiss an action to confirm an arbitration award in favor of Appellee Figueiredo Ferraz Consultoria E Engenharia de Projeto Ltda. (" Figueiredo" ). See Figueiredo Ferraz Consultoria E Engenharia de Projeto Ltda. v. Republic of Peru, 655 F.Supp.2d 361 (S.D.N.Y.2009). The Appellants sought dismissal on several grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, FNC, and international comity. We conclude that the District Court erred in declining to dismiss on the FNC ground and therefore reverse and remand with directions to dismiss the petition.
This case arises from a consulting agreement entered into by the Appellee and the
Program in 1997, pursuant to which the Appellee was to prepare engineering studies on water and sewage services in Peru. The agreement provides: " The parties agree to subject themselves to the competence of the Judges and Courts of the City of Lima or the Arbitration Proceedings, as applicable." After a fee dispute arose, the Appellee commenced arbitration in Peru against the Program, and in January 2005, the arbitral tribunal rendered an award (the " Award" ) directing the Program to pay the Appellee more than $21 million, which included approximately $5 million of principal damages plus accrued interest and cost of living adjustments as of the time of the award. The Ministry appealed to the Court of Appeals in Lima, challenging the Award and seeking its nullification on the ground that, under Peruvian law, the arbitration was an " international arbitration" involving a non-domestic party and, thus, recovery should have been limited to the amount of the contract. In October 2005, the Lima Court of Appeals denied the appeal, ruling that because the Appellee had designated itself a Peruvian domiciliary in the agreement and the arbitration, the arbitration was a " national arbitration" involving only domestic parties, and thus, the Award, rendered in equity, was permissible. In its pending amended petition 2 in the Southern District of New York, the Appellee alleges that it is a Brazilian corporation.
A Peruvian statute imposes, in some circumstances, a limit of three percent of the budget of a governmental entity on the amount of money the entity may pay annually to satisfy a judgment.3 See Law No. 27584, Art. 42, as amended by Law No. 27684, currently set forth in Supreme Decree No. 013-2008-JUS, Art. 47.4
Although the Appellee has not attempted to confirm the arbitration award in a Peruvian court or obtain and execute upon a judgment in Peru, the Program has been making payments on the Award. However, because of imposition of the statutory three percent cap, the Program's payment at the time of briefing was just over $1.4 million.
In January 2008, the Appellee filed a petition in the Southern District to confirm the Award and obtain a judgment for $21,607,003. The petition was brought pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. (" FAA" ), the Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration (the " Panama Convention" ), enforceable pursuant to the FAA, see id. § 301, or, alternatively, the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the " New York Convention" ), also enforceable pursuant to the FAA, see id. § 201. Jurisdiction was based on the FAA, 9 U.S.C. § 203, and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (" FSIA" ), 28 U.S.C. § 1330(b). In opposing a motion by the Appellants to dismiss, the Appellee alleged that Peru has substantial assets in New York, resulting from the sale of bonds. The Appellants acknowledge the existence of these funds. In September 2009, the District Court denied the Appellants' motion to dismiss, which had asserted various grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the FSIA, FNC, and international comity. The District Court ruled, among other things, that the Program and the Republic are not separate entities under Peruvian Law, see Figueiredo, 655 F.Supp.2d at 369, that Peru is therefore subject to the Award despite not having signed the consulting agreement, see id. at 367-71, that jurisdiction was proper under the FSIA, see id. at 371-72, and that dismissal was not appropriate under FNC, see id. at 374-77, the Agreement's forum selection clause, see id. at 377, or international comity, see id. at 377-78. The Court appears not to have explicitly considered whether the three percent cap statute was relevant to any of the threshold issues it decided, and had no occasion to consider what effect, if any, that statute might have on the Appellants' payment obligation because the Court did " not reach the ultimate question whether the Award should be confirmed." Id. at 378.
The Appellants filed an interlocutory appeal, No. 09-3925, from the denial of their motion to dismiss, predicating appellate jurisdiction on the collateral order doctrine, which is applicable to an order denying a motion to dismiss that had sought FSIA immunity, see Kensington International Ltd. v. Itoua, 505 F.3d 147, 153 (2d Cir.2007).5 Thereafter, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), the Appellants moved for leave to appeal the Court's determinations concerning FNC, the forum selection clause, and comity. The Court granted the motion and certified for interlocutory appeal those portions of its ruling concerning
these issues. This Court then granted the Appellants' section 1292(b) petition for an interlocutory appeal,6 No. 10-478-cv, and consolidated Nos. 09-3925-cv and 10-478-cv. See Figueiredo v. Republic of Peru, No. 10-478 (2d Cir. Apr. 29, 2010) (order granting interlocutory appeal). After oral argument, we invited the views of the United States on " aspects of the appeal that might have implications for the conduct of the foreign relations of the United States." 7 See Letter from Catherine O'Hagan Wolfe, Clerk of Court, to Neal Katyal, Acting Solicitor General (Oct. 29, 2010). The amicus curiae brief submitted for the United States primarily urges a remand so that the District Court can give further consideration to the issue of subject matter jurisdiction over the Republic and the Ministry. See Brief for the United States at 6-20. The brief contended that the District Court did not err in declining to dismiss on grounds of either FNC, see id. at 21-27, or international comity, see id. at 27-29. The parties have also submitted briefs commenting on the views of the United States and letters responding to this Court's inquiry as to whether the three percent cap applies to funds of the Republic in the United States. The Appellee contends that the cap statute does not apply, see Letter from Atty. Thomas J. Hall to Catherine O'Hagan Wolfe, Clerk (June 16, 2011), a contention that the Appellants do not dispute, see Letter from Atty. Juan C. Basombrio to Catherine O'Hagan Wolfe, Clerk (June 15, 2011).
Although courts are normally obliged to consider issues of subject matter jurisdiction prior to other issues, the Supreme Court has approved the practice of this Court, see In re Arbitration Between Monegasque De Reassurances S.A.M. v. Nak Naftogaz of Ukraine, 311 F.3d 488, 497-98 (2d Cir.2002); In re Minister Papandreou, 139 F.3d 247, 255-56 (D.C.Cir.1998), of exercising discretion to consider an FNC dismissal without first adjudicating issues of subject matter jurisdiction. See Sinochem International Co. v. Malaysia International Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422, 429-34, 127 S.Ct. 1184, 167 L.Ed.2d 15 (2007). We have concluded that it is appropriate to do so in this case.
We review a district court's rejection of an FNC claim for abuse of discretion, but may reverse if we conclude that the court has made an error of law. Monegasque, 311 F.3d at 498.
The FNC standards concern both private and public interests. See American...
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