847 F.Supp. 61 (S.D.Tex. 1994), Civ. A. H-93-3432, Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc.

Docket Nº:Civ. A. H-93-3432
Citation:847 F.Supp. 61
Party Name:Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc.
Case Date:January 27, 1994
Court:United States District Courts, 5th Circuit, Southern District of Texas

Page 61

847 F.Supp. 61 (S.D.Tex. 1994)

Ignacio SEQUIHUA, et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

TEXACO, INC., et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. H-93-3432.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division.

Jan. 27, 1994

Charles B. Musslewhite, Houston, TX, for plaintiffs.

Layne Edwin Kruse, Dixie Smith, Fulbright & Jaworski, Robert Dale Topping, Texaco Inc., Houston, TX, Charles Alan Wright, Austin, TX, Patrick Carlton Appel, Myer Orlando & Evans, Houston, TX, J. Randall Miller, Stephen R. Ward, Tulsa, OK, for defendants.

Page 62

ORDER

NORMAN W. BLACK, Chief Judge.

Plaintiffs, residents of Ecuador and a community in that country, filed this action in state court asserting a variety of causes of action arising out of the alleged contamination of the air, ground and water in Ecuador. In addition to monetary relief, Plaintiffs seek an injunction requiring Defendants to return the land to its former condition and the imposition of a "trust fund" to be administered by the Court. The case was removed, and the Court finds that the removal was procedurally proper. The case is before the Court on various motions, including Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand and Defendants' motions to dismiss or for summary judgment. The Court has carefully reviewed the pleadings, the memoranda, and the applicable case law, and the motions are now ripe for decision.

MOTIONS TO STAY

Plaintiffs have filed a number of motions seeking stays for various reasons. Initially, Plaintiffs have moved the Court to defer ruling on the motion to remand for a period of six months during which Plaintiffs would conduct discovery. The Court finds that resolution of the motion to remand does not involve factual disputes but, instead, involves legal issues. Consequently, the motion to defer ruling for six months is denied.

Plaintiffs also seek a sixty-day stay prior to a ruling on the motions to dismiss to conduct discovery and to obtain new counsel. Again the Court notes that the motions to dismiss involve primarily legal issues which do not require discovery beyond that which would have been necessary prior to filing the lawsuit. Additionally, the motions to dismiss have been pending for more than a month and Plaintiffs were granted an extension of time to file their response. It is not explained why any necessary affidavits could not be obtained within that time. With reference to the request for a stay to obtain new counsel, the Court finds that a stay would not be appropriate. Local Rule 2.D. provides that no delay will be permitted due to a change of counsel. While Plaintiffs may move to substitute counsel as they choose, such desire for alternate lead counsel will not be a basis for delay. As a result, these motions to stay are likewise denied.

MOTION TO REMAND

Removal of this case from state court was based on both diversity and federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiffs moved to remand, asserting that this Court lacks jurisdiction. Defendants, in their response in opposition to the motion to remand, argue that the Court has federal question jurisdiction because the lawsuit "not only raises questions of international law, but threatens to create an international incident." In this regard, the Court notes that the Republic of Ecuador has officially protested this litigation, asserting that it will do "violence" to the international legal system, and has asked that the case be dismissed. Clearly, such issues of international relations are incorporated into federal common law, which presents a federal question under § 1331. See Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino, 376 U.S. 398, 84 S.Ct. 923, 11 L.Ed.2d 804 (1964); Republic of the Philippines v. Marcos, 806 F.2d 344 (2d Cir.1986); Grynberg v. British Gas plc., 817 F.Supp. 1338 (E.D.Tex.1993). Plaintiffs in their complaint assert injuries that arose solely in Ecuador to as many as 500,000 Ecuadorans in an area that covers 1/3 of Ecuador. Plaintiffs complain about conduct which is regulated by the government in Ecuador, which is a country with its own environmental laws and regulations, a nation that owns the land at issue, and that treats all petroleum exploration and development as a "public utility" controlled by the government. Such matters affecting international law and the relationship between the United States and foreign governments give rise to federal question jurisdiction. Texas Industries, Inc. v. Radcliff Materials, 451 U.S. 630, 101 S.Ct. 2061, 68 L.Ed.2d 500 (1981); Sabbatino, 376 U.S. 398, 84 S.Ct. 923, 11 L.Ed.2d 804 (1964).

Additionally, there are essential elements of Plaintiffs' claims which, if "well-pleaded", require the application and resolution of the federal common law regarding foreign relations. Plaintiffs' claims of nuisance and for

Page 63

injunctive relief require them as part of their prima facie case to challenge the policies and regulations of Ecuador, as well as the approvals from Ecuador that Defendants received, in order to show that the conduct was improper on land owned by Ecuador. Federal question jurisdiction clearly exists where, as here, the essential elements of Plaintiffs' prima facie case necessarily involve federal international relations, such as the international law relating to the control by a foreign country over its own resources. See Grynberg, 817 F.Supp. at 1360-1363.

Lastly, Plaintiffs' request for a trust fund asks this Court to step into the shoes of the Ecuadoran Health Ministry and supervise a medical monitoring scheme of unknown cost, scope or duration for as many as 500,000 Ecuadoran citizens over the protest of the government of Ecuador. It is incomprehensible that Plaintiffs could argue this does not fully...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP
31 practice notes
  • 449 S.W.3d 655 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2014), 01-13-00310-CV, Acain v. International Plant Services, LLC
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals of Texas
    • October 28, 2014
    ...GmbH, 25 F.3d 1512 (11th Cir. 1994); Torres v. Southern Peru Copper Corp., 965 F.Supp. 899 (S.D. Tex. 1996); Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F.Supp. 61 (S.D. Tex. 1994). According to the appellees, these cases support the trial court's conclusion that the Philippines' interest in adjudicating......
  • 100 F.Supp.2d 31 (D.D.C. 2000), MDL 1279, In re Tobacco/Governmental Health Care Costs Litigation
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts District of Columbia
    • June 12, 2000
    ...1998) (en banc), rev'd and remanded on other grounds, 526 U.S. 574, 119 S.Ct. 1563, 143 L.Ed.2d 760 (1999); Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F.Supp. 61 (S.D.Tex.1994); Grynberg Production Corp. v. British Gas, p.l.c., 817 F.Supp. 1338 (E.D.Tex.1993). It is this expansion of the doctrine on whi......
  • 142 F.Supp.2d 534 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), 93 CIV. 7527, Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • May 30, 2001
    ...District of Texas dismissed the case in favor of its being pursued in the courts of Ecuador. See Page 538 Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F.Supp. 61, 63 (S.D.Tex.1994). Here, however, the late Judge Broderick (to whom these cases were originally assigned)--while expressing doubts that these s......
  • 221 F.Supp.2d 1116 (C.D.Cal. 2002), Civ. 00-11695, Sarei v. Rio Tinto PLC.
    • United States
    • July 9, 2002
    ...and to the rights of its own citizens or of other persons who are under the protection of its laws' "); Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F.Supp. 61, 63 (S.D.Tex.1994) ("Under the doctrine known as comity of nations, a court should decline to exercise jurisdiction under certain circum......
  • Free signup to view additional results
25 cases
  • 449 S.W.3d 655 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2014), 01-13-00310-CV, Acain v. International Plant Services, LLC
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals of Texas
    • October 28, 2014
    ...GmbH, 25 F.3d 1512 (11th Cir. 1994); Torres v. Southern Peru Copper Corp., 965 F.Supp. 899 (S.D. Tex. 1996); Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F.Supp. 61 (S.D. Tex. 1994). According to the appellees, these cases support the trial court's conclusion that the Philippines' interest in adjudicating......
  • 100 F.Supp.2d 31 (D.D.C. 2000), MDL 1279, In re Tobacco/Governmental Health Care Costs Litigation
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts District of Columbia
    • June 12, 2000
    ...1998) (en banc), rev'd and remanded on other grounds, 526 U.S. 574, 119 S.Ct. 1563, 143 L.Ed.2d 760 (1999); Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F.Supp. 61 (S.D.Tex.1994); Grynberg Production Corp. v. British Gas, p.l.c., 817 F.Supp. 1338 (E.D.Tex.1993). It is this expansion of the doctrine on whi......
  • 142 F.Supp.2d 534 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), 93 CIV. 7527, Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • May 30, 2001
    ...District of Texas dismissed the case in favor of its being pursued in the courts of Ecuador. See Page 538 Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F.Supp. 61, 63 (S.D.Tex.1994). Here, however, the late Judge Broderick (to whom these cases were originally assigned)--while expressing doubts that these s......
  • 221 F.Supp.2d 1116 (C.D.Cal. 2002), Civ. 00-11695, Sarei v. Rio Tinto PLC.
    • United States
    • July 9, 2002
    ...and to the rights of its own citizens or of other persons who are under the protection of its laws' "); Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F.Supp. 61, 63 (S.D.Tex.1994) ("Under the doctrine known as comity of nations, a court should decline to exercise jurisdiction under certain circum......
  • Free signup to view additional results
6 books & journal articles
  • Judging foreign states.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 94 Nbr. 1, December - December 2016
    • December 1, 2016
    ...Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 133 S. Ct. 1659 (2013) (No. 101491), 2012 WL 405480. (134.) E.g., Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F. Supp. 61 (S.D. Tex. 1994). (135.) See, e.g., United States v. First Nat'l. City Bank, 396 F.2d 897 (2d Cir. 1968) (discussing German interest in financial regu......
  • The Recognition Act, anti-suit injunctions, the DJA, and much more fun: the story of the Chevron-Ecuador litigation and the resulting problems of aggressive multinational enforcement proceedings.
    • United States
    • Fordham Urban Law Journal Vol. 41 Nbr. 1, November - November 2013
    • November 1, 2013
    ...quickly dismissed by the Texas federal court on the grounds of forum non conveniens and international comity. Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F. Supp. 61 (S.D. Tex. 1994). (25.) Chevron Corp. v. Donziger, 768 F. Supp. 2d 581,598 (S.D.N.Y. 2011), vacated sub nom., Chevron Corp. v. Naranjo, No.......
  • Uncertain justice: liability of multinationals under the Alien Tort Claims Act.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 54 Nbr. 6, June 2002
    • June 1, 2002
    ...and exposed them to disease. See Zia-Zarifi, supra note 10, at 99-100. The litigation was originally commenced as Sequihua v. Texaco, 847 F. Supp. 61 (S.D. Tex. 1994), in state court in Texas with no ATCA cause of action. The case was removed to federal court and subsequently dismissed. Seq......
  • Litigation isolationism.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 67 Nbr. 5, May - May 2015
    • May 1, 2015
    ...F. App'x 383, 384 (2d Cir. 2009); Ungaro-Benages v. Dresdner Bank AG, 379 F.3d 1227, 1237-38 (11th Cir. 2004); Sequihua v. Texaco, Inc., 847 F. Supp. 61, 63 (S.D. Tex. 1994); see also Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. California, 509 U.S. 764, 797-98 (1993) (concluding that "international comi......
  • Free signup to view additional results