Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale, In re, No. 85-2306

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore McMILLIAN, ARNOLD, and FAGG; FAGG
Citation782 F.2d 120
Parties, 3 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1275 In re SOCIETE NATIONALE INDUSTRIELLE AEROSPATIALE and Societe de Construction d'Avions de Tourism, Petitioners.
Docket NumberNo. 85-2306
Decision Date22 January 1986

Page 120

782 F.2d 120
54 USLW 2408, 3 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1275
In re SOCIETE NATIONALE INDUSTRIELLE AEROSPATIALE and
Societe de Construction d'Avions de Tourism, Petitioners.
No. 85-2306.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eighth Circuit.
Jan. 22, 1986.

Page 122

Before McMILLIAN, ARNOLD, and FAGG, Circuit Judges.

FAGG, Circuit Judge.

Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale and Societe de Construction d'Avions de Tourism (Petitioners), corporate defendants in a civil action pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, have petitioned this court under Rule 21(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure for a writ of mandamus directed at United States Magistrate Ronald E. Longstaff. We conclude that the petition should be denied.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Petitioners, corporations owned by the Republic of France, design, manufacture, and market aircraft. Although the Petitioners design and manufacture their aircraft in France, they advertise and sell their aircraft in the United States. In 1980, an aircraft sold by the Petitioners was involved in an accident near New Virginia, Iowa. As a result of this accident, Dennis Jones, John George, and Rosa George (collectively "Plaintiffs") instituted actions for damages against the Petitioners. These actions were consolidated and are pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. Upon the parties' consent, the district court

Page 123

referred the actions to a magistrate in accordance with 28 U.S.C. Sec. 636(c)(1).

The Plaintiffs served the Petitioners with a series of interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for production of documents under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Petitioners moved for a protective order contending that, to the extent they possessed the documents or information requested by the Plaintiffs, the material was located in France. Thus, the Petitioners argued that the Plaintiffs must conduct their discovery in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Multilateral Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters, March 18, 1970, 23 U.S.T. 2555, T.I.A.S. No. 7444 ("Hague Convention" or "Convention"), to which the United States and France are signatories. The Petitioners also insisted that they should not be required to comply with the Plaintiffs' discovery requests, because to do so could subject the Petitioners to criminal liability under French Penal Code Law No. 80-538, Art. 1-bis ("French Blocking Statute"). The magistrate denied the Petitioners' motion for a protective order and ordered the Petitioners to comply with the Plaintiffs' discovery requests. The Petitioners then filed this application for a writ of mandamus, and the magistrate's order has been stayed pending a decision from this court.

II. JURISDICTION

Mandamus review generally is available only in extraordinary situations, Kerr v. United States, 426 U.S. 394, 402, 96 S.Ct. 2119, 2123, 48 L.Ed.2d 725 (1976); Central Microfilm Service Corp. v. Basic/Four Corp., 688 F.2d 1206, 1212 (8th Cir.1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1204, 103 S.Ct. 1191, 75 L.Ed.2d 436 (1983), and is not ordinarily available to obtain immediate appellate review of an interlocutory discovery order. Kerr, 426 U.S. at 402-03, 96 S.Ct. at 2123-24; In re Burlington Northern, Inc., 679 F.2d 762, 767-68 (8th Cir.1982); Diversified Industries, Inc. v. Meredith, 572 F.2d 596, 599 (8th Cir.1977), modified on other grounds, 572 F.2d 606, 611 (8th Cir.1978) (en banc). However, mandamus review may be appropriate to provide guidelines for the resolution of novel and important questions presented in the discovery order that are likely to recur. Central Microfilm, 688 F.2d at 1212, citing Schlagenhauf v. Holder, 379 U.S. 104, 111-12, 85 S.Ct. 234, 238-39, 13 L.Ed.2d 152 (1964); La Buy v. Howes Leather Co., 352 U.S. 249, 254-55, 258, 77 S.Ct. 309, 312-13, 314, 1 L.Ed.2d 290 (1957); General Motors Corp. v. Lord, 488 F.2d 1096, 1099 (8th Cir.1974). See also Note, Supervisory and Advisory Mandamus Under the All Writs Act, 86 Harv.L.Rev. 595 (1973).

This is the first time this court has been called upon to consider the novel and important questions concerning the interplay between the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Hague Convention, and the French Blocking Statute. In addition, because the Plaintiffs are in the initial stages of discovery, and because the nature of the discovery requests at issue indicate that the answers generated from these requests may necessitate further discovery, we believe the questions presented here may well recur prior to any opportunity to review a final judgment. Thus, we conclude that this is an appropriate situation for mandamus review, and accordingly we will consider the petition on the merits.

III. THE HAGUE CONVENTION

Unlike the practice in the United States and other common law countries where pretrial discovery is considered a private matter primarily conducted by attorneys, France and other civil law countries regard discovery as a judicial function, to be accomplished by the courts. An attempt by an attorney from a common law country to gather evidence in a civil law country for a proceeding abroad has been considered an unlawful usurpation of the public judicial function, and an illegal intrusion on that nation's judicial sovereignty. Compagnie Francaise D'Assurance Pour le Commerce Exterieur v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 105 F.R.D. 16, 26 (S.D.N.Y.1984); Edwards, Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil

Page 124

or Commercial Matters, 18 Int'l & Comp.L.Q. 646, 647 (1967).

In response to this problem, the Hague Convention was designed to accommodate the civil law signatories' concerns for judicial sovereignty with the needs of litigants to collect evidence within those countries. To effectuate this purpose, the drafters of the Hague Convention provided procedures for the taking of evidence that would be "tolerable" in the country where the discovery takes place and "utilizable" in the forum country. See Report of the United States Delegation to the Eleventh Session of Hague Conference on Private International Law, 8 Int'l Legal Materials 785, 806 (1969); Amram, The Proposed Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad, 55 A.B.A.J. 651, 652 (1969). Although foreign participation in drafting the Hague Convention stemmed from a perception that discovery efforts by American litigants were excessively broad and intrusive on the foreign countries' judicial sovereignty, United States participation was prompted by the frustration American lawyers had experienced in obtaining evidence in the foreign countries. Comment, The Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters: The Exclusive and Mandatory Procedures for Discovery Abroad, 132 U.Pa.L.Rev.1960, 1965 (1984); Amram, 55 A.B.A.J. at 651. Of course, the civil law signatories' concern for judicial...

To continue reading

Request your trial
11 practice notes
  • Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale v. U.S. District Court for the S. District of Iowa, No. 85-1695
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1987
    ...scrutiny in each case of the particular facts, sovereign interests, and likelihood that such resort will prove effective. Pp. 541-546. 782 F.2d 120 (CA8 1986), vacated and remanded. STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, POWELL, and SCALIA, JJ.......
  • Newport Components v. NEC Home Electronics, No. 86-5613-DT(Bx).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • September 29, 1987
    ...American courts." Id. at 1411 (citations and footnotes omitted; emphasis added); accord In re Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale, 782 F.2d 120, 123-25 (8th Cir.1986). The Societe Nationale court directed "that resort to the convention should be considered in each case," but need no......
  • S & S Screw Mach. Co. v. Cosa Corp., No. 2-85-0036.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • October 17, 1986
    ...Both rationales25 underlay the reasoning of the Eighth Circuit in In re Societe Nationale 647 F. Supp. 614 Industrielle Aerospatiale,26 782 F.2d 120 (8th Cir.1986), cert. granted, ___ U.S. ___, 106 U.S. 2888, 90 L.Ed.2d 976 (1986); see also In re Anschuetz & Co., 754 F.2d 602, 611-12 (5th C......
  • U.S. v. Rubin, No. 86-5178
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • February 4, 1988
    ...v. Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673, 106 S.Ct. 1431, 89 L.Ed.2d 674 (1986). 8 See, e.g., In Re Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale, 782 F.2d 120 (8th Cir.1986), vacated on other grounds, --- U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 2542, 96 L.Ed.2d 461 (1987); United States v. Davis, 767 F.2d 1025, 1034-35 (2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale v. U.S. District Court for the S. District of Iowa, No. 85-1695
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1987
    ...scrutiny in each case of the particular facts, sovereign interests, and likelihood that such resort will prove effective. Pp. 541-546. 782 F.2d 120 (CA8 1986), vacated and remanded. STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, POWELL, and SCALIA, JJ.......
  • Newport Components v. NEC Home Electronics, No. 86-5613-DT(Bx).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • September 29, 1987
    ...American courts." Id. at 1411 (citations and footnotes omitted; emphasis added); accord In re Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale, 782 F.2d 120, 123-25 (8th Cir.1986). The Societe Nationale court directed "that resort to the convention should be considered in each case," but need no......
  • S & S Screw Mach. Co. v. Cosa Corp., No. 2-85-0036.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • October 17, 1986
    ...Both rationales25 underlay the reasoning of the Eighth Circuit in In re Societe Nationale 647 F. Supp. 614 Industrielle Aerospatiale,26 782 F.2d 120 (8th Cir.1986), cert. granted, ___ U.S. ___, 106 U.S. 2888, 90 L.Ed.2d 976 (1986); see also In re Anschuetz & Co., 754 F.2d 602, 611-12 (5th C......
  • U.S. v. Rubin, No. 86-5178
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • February 4, 1988
    ...v. Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673, 106 S.Ct. 1431, 89 L.Ed.2d 674 (1986). 8 See, e.g., In Re Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale, 782 F.2d 120 (8th Cir.1986), vacated on other grounds, --- U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 2542, 96 L.Ed.2d 461 (1987); United States v. Davis, 767 F.2d 1025, 1034-35 (2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT