Rex v. Cia. Pervana De Vapores, S. A., No. 80-2335

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore ALDISERT, WEIS and SLOVITER; ALDISERT; SLOVITER
Citation660 F.2d 61
Decision Date22 October 1981
Docket NumberNo. 80-2335,80-2336,No. 80-2336,Nos. 80-2335
PartiesREX, Calvin v. CIA. PERVANA DE VAPORES, S. A. Appeal of Calvin REX and Cia. Pervana De Vapores, S. A., inREX, Calvin v. CIA. PERVANA DE VAPORES, S. A. Appeal of UNITED STATES of America, Intervenor, in

Page 61

660 F.2d 61
REX, Calvin
v.
CIA. PERVANA DE VAPORES, S. A.
Appeal of Calvin REX and Cia. Pervana De Vapores, S. A., in
No. 80-2335.
REX, Calvin
v.
CIA. PERVANA DE VAPORES, S. A.
Appeal of UNITED STATES of America, Intervenor, in No. 80-2336.
Nos. 80-2335, 80-2336.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Argued June 8, 1981.
Decided Sept. 17, 1981.
Rehearing and Rehearing In Banc Denied Oct. 22, 1981.

E. Alfred Smith (argued), H. Wallace Roberts, Peter Hansen Bach, Krusen, Evans & Byrne, Philadelphia, Pa., for appellant Cia. Pervana De Vapores, S. A.

Alice Daniel, Asst. Atty. Gen., Washington, D. C., Peter F. Vaira, U. S. Atty., Philadelphia, Pa., Bruno A. Ristau, Eloise E. Davies (argued), Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for appellant United States of America.

Charles Sovel (argued), Freedman & Lorry, Philadelphia, Pa., for appellee.

Before ALDISERT, WEIS and SLOVITER, Circuit Judges.

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ALDISERT, Circuit Judge.

Before us is an interlocutory appeal certified under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) from a district court decision granting plaintiff-appellee's motion for a jury trial. Rex v. Cia. Pervana De Vapores, S.A., 493 F.Supp. 459 (E.D.Pa.1980). The issues certified and accepted for our review are whether all actions brought under 28 U.S.C. § 1330(a), enacted as § 2(a) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, Pub.L.No.94-583, 90 Stat. 2891 (hereinafter referred to as FSIA), must be tried to the court without a jury, whether that act is the sole basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction in civil actions against agencies or instrumentalities of foreign sovereigns, and, if the answers to both of these questions are affirmative, whether the FSIA is consistent with the seventh amendment guarantee of civil jury trial. We resolve each of the questions in the affirmative, and therefore reverse.

I.

Because of the procedural status of the case, a detailed recitation of facts is unnecessary. Calvin Rex, the appellee, is a longshoreman who was injured while unloading cargo for the ship of the appellant, Compania Pervana De Vapores, S.A. The appellant is a Peruvian corporation, the stock of which is wholly owned by the Government of Peru. Appellee filed suit for damages under § 5(b) of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. § 905(b), alleging federal subject matter jurisdiction by reason of diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, a federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and an action against a foreign sovereign, 28 U.S.C. § 1330(a). Included in his claim for relief was a request for a jury trial. The district court instructed the clerk to notify the Attorney General of the United States to allow his participation in the case.

In Rex v. Cia. Pervana De Vapores, S.A., 493 F.Supp. 459 (E.D.Pa.1980), the district court granted the demand for a jury trial. The court expressed concern that an interpretation of the FSIA, which creates federal jurisdiction over agents or instrumentalities of foreign states, as the exclusive basis for federal jurisdiction over foreign governments would unconstitutionally deprive plaintiffs of their right to jury trial. Section 1330(a), the jurisdictional provision of the FSIA, states:

The district courts shall have original jurisdiction without regard to amount in controversy of any nonjury civil action against a foreign state as defined in section 1603(a) of this title as to any claim for relief in personam with respect to which the foreign state is not entitled to immunity either under sections 1605-1607 of this title or under any applicable international agreement.

To avoid this possible constitutional infirmity, the court concluded that 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332 provide federal civil actions against the commercial enterprises of foreign sovereigns, and that the right to jury trial has not been eliminated from these sections. 493 F.Supp. at 466-69. By refusing to construe § 1330(a) as the exclusive basis of federal jurisdiction, therefore, the district court obviated application of the seventh amendment to invalidate the statute. 1

II.

The issues before us in this case have previously drawn the attention of two other courts of appeals. In Williams v. The Shipping Corp. of India, 653 F.2d 875 (4th Cir. 1981), and in Ruggiero v. Compania Pervana de Vapores "Inca Capac Yupanqui", 639 F.2d 872 (2d Cir. 1981), the courts affirmed district court orders striking jury demands on similar facts. Judge Friendly's opinion for the court in Ruggiero examined the relevant statutes and their legislative histories and concluded that § 1330(a) constitutes the sole basis of federal subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign or its entities. The court considered and rejected

Page 63

the theory posited by the district court in this case. It concluded that "(t)he (House and Senate) reports thus confirm what is patent from the statutory language Congress wished to provide a single vehicle for actions against foreign states or entities controlled by them, to wit, § 1330 and § 1441(d), its equivalent on removal, and to bar jury trial in each." 639 F.2d at 878.

Faced squarely with the seventh amendment question, the second circuit reasoned that the purpose of the seventh amendment is to preserve the right to jury trial as it existed in 1791 when the amendment became effective, and not to extend the right to new types of cases. Because the military and commercial operations of foreign governments were immune from suit until the middle of the twentieth century, the court concluded that the seventh amendment is inapplicable to these cases because no right of jury trial in similar cases existed when the seventh amendment became effective in 1791. Id. at 879. The court also analogized suits against foreign governments to suits against the United States, and noted that Congress can attach conditions to such suits as a predicate for creating federal jurisdiction over them. Id. at 880. It distinguished Curtis v. Loether, 415 U.S. 189, 94 S.Ct. 1005, 39 L.Ed.2d 260 (1974), and Pernell v. Southall Realty, 416 U.S. 363, 94 S.Ct. 1723, 40 L.Ed.2d 198 (1974) as holding "only that when Congress enlarges domestic substantive law or alters procedure in cases governed by it, the Seventh Amendment protects the right to jury trial if the new substantive right or proceeding is analogous to a suit at common law in 1791." 639 F.2d at 881 (citations omitted).

The court in Williams followed the Ruggiero analysis, holding that sections 1330 and 1441(d) are jurisdictionally exclusive and that the jury bar is constitutional. Citing McElrath v. United States, 102 U.S. 426, 26 L.Ed. 189 (1880), and Parsons v. Bedford, 28 U.S. (3 Pet.) 433, 7 L.Ed. 732 (1830), the court held that the seventh amendment applies only to defendants who could be sued at common law in 1791. Because the commercial vessels of foreign states were immune from suit in 1791, the action was not within the seventh amendment. We agree with the conclusions reached by the second and fourth circuits, although we arrive by a slightly different route.

III.

In accordance with the oft-cited maxim that "(n)o court ought, unless the terms of an act (of Congress) rendered it unavoidable, to give a construction to it which should involve a violation, however unintentional, of the constitution," Parsons v. Bedford, 28 U.S. (3 Pet.) at 448, we must first examine the jurisdictional provisions of the FSIA to determine if a reasonable construction of them will avoid a conflict with the seventh amendment. See also St. Martin Evangelical Lutheran Church v. South Dakota, 451 U.S. 772, 778, 101 S.Ct. 2142, 2146, 68 L.Ed.2d 612 (1981); United States v. Clark, 445 U.S. 23, 27, 100 S.Ct. 895, 899, 63 L.Ed.2d 171 (1980); Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 693, 99 S.Ct. 2545, 2553, 61 L.Ed.2d 176 (1979); New York City Transit Authority v. Beazer, 440 U.S. 568, 582-83 & n.22, 99 S.Ct. 1355, 1364 & n.22 (1979). This inquiry requires us to determine if Congress clearly intended to withhold jury trials in FSIA actions, and, if so, whether § 1330(a) is the exclusive jurisdictional grant in this case.

A.

Section 1330(a) was intended to provide a comprehensive treatment of jurisdiction over actions against foreign states. H.R.Rep.No.1487, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 14, reprinted in (1976) U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News 6604, 6613. The parties concede that appellant is a "foreign state" for purposes of § 1330(a). 2 The parties also agree that

Page 64

appellant is entitled to no claim of immunity under the FSIA. 3

Although Congress could have stated with more elegance that actions against foreign states and their instrumentalities could be litigated in federal court only to a judge sitting without a jury, we have been shown no indication that Congress intended its grant of jurisdiction over "nonjury civil action(s)" to mean anything other than a statutory denial of jury trial in these cases. See 1 J. Moore, Federal Practice P 0.66(4) at 700.179-.180 (2d ed. 1980). The parallel statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441(d), which allows removal to federal court of actions filed against foreign sovereigns in state court, supports our interpretation of § 1330(a). Section 1441(d) allows removal, but states that "(u)pon removal the action shall be tried by the court without jury." The clear intention of the jurisdictional revisions in the FSIA was to require trial of these actions without a jury. Although the district court held that the appellant qualifies as both an "instrumentality of a foreign state" under 28 U.S.C. § 1603(a) and a "citizen" of a foreign state under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2), we conclude that the legislative history forecloses this interpretation of § 1332(a)(2).

B.

The district court espoused a separate theory for avoiding denial of a jury trial. Although conceding that Congress eliminated diversity jurisdiction over foreign states by explicitly amending 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2), the district court noted that Congress failed to...

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  • Hatco Corp. v. W.R. Grace & Co. Conn., No. 94-5276
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • August 8, 1995
    ...only in equity argues Page 414 against a statutory remedy being considered as one at law. 11 In Rex v. Cia. Pervana de Vapores, S.A., 660 F.2d 61, 65 (3d Cir.1981), we observed that the Seventh Amendment issue presented in a case must be considered in the context of the congressional schema......
  • Air Crash Disaster Near Roselawn, Ind. on Oct. 31, 1994, In re
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • October 31, 1994
    ...S.Ct. 408, 88 L.Ed.2d 359 (1985); Goar v. Compania Peruana de Vapores 688 F.2d 417 (5th Cir.1982); Rex v. Cia. Pervana De Vapores, S.A., 660 F.2d 61 (3d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 926, 102 S.Ct. 1971, 72 L.Ed.2d 441 (1982); Williams v. Shipping Corp. of India, 653 F.2d 875 (4th Cir.1......
  • U.S. v. Clemons, No. 87-3239
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • March 31, 1988
    ...exists under a mandate to support and uphold the Constitution. U.S.Const. art. VI, cl. 3. See Rex v. CIA Pervana De Vapores, S.A., 660 F.2d 61, 65 (3d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 926, 102 S.Ct. 1971, 72 L.Ed.2d 441 Similarly, we must refrain from deciding a constitutional question unl......
  • Vermeulen v. Renault, U.S.A., Inc., No. 91-8765
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 22, 1993
    ...2892 (currently codified at 28 U.S.C. §§ 1602-11 (1988 & Supp. II 1990)). Goar, 688 F.2d at 421; Rex v. Cia. Pervana de Vapores, S.A., 660 F.2d 61, 64 (3d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 926, 102 S.Ct. 1971, 72 L.Ed.2d 441 (1982); Williams v. Shipping Corp. of India, 653 F.2d 875, 881 (4t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • Hatco Corp. v. W.R. Grace & Co. Conn., No. 94-5276
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • August 8, 1995
    ...only in equity argues Page 414 against a statutory remedy being considered as one at law. 11 In Rex v. Cia. Pervana de Vapores, S.A., 660 F.2d 61, 65 (3d Cir.1981), we observed that the Seventh Amendment issue presented in a case must be considered in the context of the congressional schema......
  • Air Crash Disaster Near Roselawn, Ind. on Oct. 31, 1994, In re
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • October 31, 1994
    ...S.Ct. 408, 88 L.Ed.2d 359 (1985); Goar v. Compania Peruana de Vapores 688 F.2d 417 (5th Cir.1982); Rex v. Cia. Pervana De Vapores, S.A., 660 F.2d 61 (3d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 926, 102 S.Ct. 1971, 72 L.Ed.2d 441 (1982); Williams v. Shipping Corp. of India, 653 F.2d 875 (4th Cir.1......
  • U.S. v. Clemons, No. 87-3239
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • March 31, 1988
    ...exists under a mandate to support and uphold the Constitution. U.S.Const. art. VI, cl. 3. See Rex v. CIA Pervana De Vapores, S.A., 660 F.2d 61, 65 (3d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 926, 102 S.Ct. 1971, 72 L.Ed.2d 441 Similarly, we must refrain from deciding a constitutional question unl......
  • Vermeulen v. Renault, U.S.A., Inc., No. 91-8765
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 22, 1993
    ...2892 (currently codified at 28 U.S.C. §§ 1602-11 (1988 & Supp. II 1990)). Goar, 688 F.2d at 421; Rex v. Cia. Pervana de Vapores, S.A., 660 F.2d 61, 64 (3d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 926, 102 S.Ct. 1971, 72 L.Ed.2d 441 (1982); Williams v. Shipping Corp. of India, 653 F.2d 875, 881 (4t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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