978 F.2d 493 (9th Cir. 1992), 91-15891, In re Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos Human Rights Litigation

Docket Nº:91-15891.
Citation:978 F.2d 493
Party Name:In re ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS HUMAN RIGHTS LITIGATION. Agapita TRAJANO; Archimedes Trajano, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Ferdinand E. MARCOS, Defendant, and Imee Marcos-Manotoc, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:October 21, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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978 F.2d 493 (9th Cir. 1992)


Agapita TRAJANO; Archimedes Trajano, Plaintiffs-Appellees,


Ferdinand E. MARCOS, Defendant,


Imee Marcos-Manotoc, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 91-15891.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

October 21, 1992

Argued and Submitted June 8, 1992.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Bernard J. Rothbaum, Jr., Linn & Helms, Oklahoma City, Okl. (argued the case), Donald C. Smaltz, Smaltz & Anderson, Los Angeles, Cal. (signed the briefs), for defendant-appellant.

Jon M. Van Dyke, Sherry P. Broder and Lillian Ramirez-Uy, Graulty, Ikeda & Ramirez-Uy, Honolulu, Hawaii, for plaintiffs-appellees.

Ellen Lutz, Los Angeles, Cal., for amicus curiae Human Rights Watch.

Harold Hongju Koh, New Haven, Conn., Michael Ratner, New York City, for amici curiae Allard K. Lowenstein Intern. Human Rights Clinic and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.

Before BROWNING, PREGERSON and RYMER, Circuit Judges.

RYMER, Circuit Judge:

After former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his daughter, Imee Marcos-Manotoc, fled to Hawaii in 1986, they were sued in federal court by Agapita Trajano, a citizen of the Philippines who then lived in Hawaii, for the torture and wrongful death of Trajano's son, Archimedes, in the Philippines on August 31, 1977. 1 Marcos-Manotoc did not appear and a default judgment was entered against her. On appeal, she contends that the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1330, 1602-11, does not authorize a federal court to assert jurisdiction, over actions taken by a foreign government against its own citizens. 2 We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and affirm.


In August of 1977, Ferdinand Marcos was President of the Philippines, Marcos-Manotoc was the National Chairman of the Kabataang Baranggay, and Fabian Ver was in charge of military intelligence. Archimedes Trajano was a student at the Mapua Institute of Technology. On the 31st of August, Trajano went to an open forum discussion at which Marcos-Manotoc was speaking. When Trajano asked a question about her appointment as director of an organization, he was kidnapped, interrogated,

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and tortured to death by military intelligence personnel who were acting under Ver's direction, pursuant to martial law declared by Marcos, and under the authority of Ver, Marcos, and Marcos-Manotoc. He was tortured and murdered for his political beliefs and activities. Marcos-Manotoc controlled the police and military intelligence personnel who tortured and murdered Trajano, knew they were taking him to be tortured, and caused Trajano's death.

In February of 1986, Marcos, Marcos-Manotoc, General Ver and others left the Philippines and arrived at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. On March 20, 1986, Agapita Trajano filed her complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. 3 The complaint seeks damages on behalf of the estate of Archimedes Trajano for false imprisonment, kidnapping, wrongful death, and a deprivation of rights, and on behalf of Trajano's mother for emotional distress. Default was entered against Marcos-Manotoc on May 29, 1986. In 1991, she moved to set aside entry of default on the ground of insufficiency of service. The motion was denied and, after a damages hearing, judgment was entered based on the court's findings that Trajano was tortured and his death was caused by Marcos-Manotoc. The court concluded that this violation of fundamental human rights constitutes a tort in violation of the law of nations under 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and awarded damages of $4.16 million and attorneys' fees pursuant to Philippine law. 4


We must first determine whether Marcos-Manotoc is entitled to immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1330, 1602-11. The FSIA "must be applied by the district courts in every action against a foreign sovereign, since subject-matter jurisdiction in any such action depends on the existence of one of the specified exceptions to foreign sovereign immunity." Verlinden B.V. v. Central Bank of Nigeria, 461 U.S. 480, 493, 103 S.Ct. 1962, 1971, 76 L.Ed.2d 81 (1983); see also Argentine Republic v. Amerada Hess Shipping Corp., 488 U.S. 428, 109 S.Ct. 683, 102 L.Ed.2d 818 (1989); Liu v. Republic of China, 892 F.2d 1419, 1424 (9th Cir.1989), cert. dismissed, 497 U.S. 1058, 111 S.Ct. 27, 111 L.Ed.2d 840 (1990). A "foreign state" under the Act includes "an agency or instrumentality of a foreign state." 28 U.S.C. § 1603(a). 5 We have, in turn, held that an "agency or instrumentality of a foreign state" for purposes of the FSIA includes individuals acting in their official capacity. Chuidian v.

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Philippine Nat'l Bank, 912 F.2d 1095, 1099-1103 (9th Cir.1990). Therefore, because Marcos-Manotoc's default concedes that she controlled the military police, the FSIA is implicated and we must be satisfied that it does not bar jurisdiction, even though the issue was not raised in the district court.

Marcos-Manotoc argues that the FSIA is the sole basis for jurisdiction, preempting all other bases including § 1350. She relies on Amerada Hess, in which two Liberian corporations sued the Argentine Republic in a United States District Court for a tort allegedly committed by its armed forces on the high seas in violation of international law. The court of appeals had allowed the action to proceed under the Alien Tort Statute, but the Supreme Court held that it should be dismissed because the FSIA controls and does not authorize jurisdiction over a foreign state in these circumstances. 6 The Court made clear that the FSIA is the "sole basis for obtaining jurisdiction over a foreign state in our courts." 488 U.S. at 434, 109 S.Ct. at 688; see also Liu, 892 F.2d at 1424. Thus, the FSIA trumps the Alien Tort Statute when a foreign state or, in this circuit, an individual acting in her official capacity, is sued.

Marcos-Manotoc argues that the Philippine Military Intelligence is an "instrumentality" of a foreign state within § 1603(b) of the FSIA, and that the tortious acts were brought about by persons acting pursuant to the authority of Marcos, Marcos-Manotoc, and Ver such that the liability of Marcos-Manotoc is expressly premised on her authority as a government agent. She further contends that, regardless of whether she acted within the scope of her employment, she is entitled to absolute immunity under § 1604 7 because a foreign state and its agents lose sovereign immunity only for tortious acts occurring in the United States. See McKeel v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 722 F.2d 582, 588 (9th Cir.1983) (Congress did not intend to assert jurisdiction over foreign states for events occurring wholly within their own territory), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 880, 105 S.Ct. 243, 83 L.Ed.2d 182 (1984). Trajano, on the other hand, argues that under Chuidian, the FSIA does not immunize acts of individuals which are outside the scope of their official duties, 8 and that the acts of torture and arbitrary killing (which the complaint avers occurred under Marcos-Manotoc's own authority) cannot be "official acts" within whatever authority Marcos-Manotoc was given by the Republic of the Philippines.

In Chuidian, we held that the FSIA covers a foreign official acting in an official capacity, but that an official is not entitled to immunity for acts which are not committed in an official capacity (such as selling personal property), and for acts beyond the scope of her authority (for example, doing something the sovereign has not empowered the official to do). 912 F.2d at 1106. In McKeel, in construing § 1605(a)(5) of the FSIA, which waives immunity for damages against a foreign state for injury occurring in the United States, 9 we found that Congress

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intended the FSIA to be consistent with international law--and that the prevailing practice in international law is "that a state loses its sovereign immunity for tortious acts only where they occur in the territory of the forum state." 722 F.2d at 588.

Marcos-Manotoc's default makes the application of both cases easy in this case, for she has admitted acting on her own authority, not on the authority of the Republic of the Philippines. 10 Under these circumstances, her acts cannot have been taken within any official mandate and therefore cannot have been acts of an agent or instrumentality of a foreign state within the meaning of the FSIA. On any view, FSIA coverage under Chuidian is not triggered, and the statutory limitation to injury occurring in the United States recognized in McKeel is not relevant. As a matter of law, therefore, the district court did not err in failing to dismiss Marcos-Manotoc in her individual capacity. 11


Absent jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 12 there is no dispute that the only possible jurisdictional basis for Trajano's action is the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350. Section 1350 provides:

The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.

It was enacted as part of the First Judiciary Act of 1789, 13 but has seldom been invoked. The debates that led to the Act's passage contain no reference to the Alien Tort Statute, and there is no direct evidence of what the First Congress intended it to accomplish. The statute has, however, been comprehensively analyzed by the Second Circuit in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, 630 F.2d 876 (2d Cir.1980), which...

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