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Dole Food Co. v. Patrickson

Supreme Court of the United States

January 22, 2003, Argued ; April 22, 2003, Decided 1

Nos. 01-593 and 01-594

Opinion

 [*470]  [**1658]  [***650]    JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.

 LEdHN[1A][] [1A] LEdHN[2A][] [2A] LEdHN[3A][] [3A] LEdHN[4A][] [4A]HN1[] Foreign states may invoke certain rights and immunities in litigation under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of  [*471]  1976 (FSIA or Act), Pub. L. 94-583, 90 Stat. 2891. Some of the Act's provisions also may be invoked by a corporate entity that is an "instrumentality" of a foreign state as defined by the Act.  Republic of Argentina v. Weltover, Inc., 504 U.S. 607, 611, 119 L. Ed. 2d 394, 112 S. Ct. 2160 (1992);  Verlinden B. V. v. Central Bank of Nigeria, 461 U.S. 480, 488, 76 L. Ed. 2d 81, 103 S. Ct. 1962 (1983). The corporate entities in this action claim instrumentality status to invoke the Act's provisions allowing removal of state-court actions to federal court. As the action comes to us, it presents two questions. The first [****7]  is whether a corporate subsidiary can claim instrumentality status where the foreign state does not own a majority of its shares but does own a majority of the shares of a corporate parent one or more tiers above the subsidiary. The second question is whether a corporation's instrumentality status is defined as of the time an alleged tort or other actionable wrong occurred or, on the other hand, at the time suit is filed. We granted certiorari,  536 U.S. 956 (2002).

 LEdHN[4B][] [4B]The underlying action was filed in a state court in Hawaii in 1997 against Dole Food Company and other companies (Dole petitioners). Plaintiffs in the action were a group of farm workers from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Panama who alleged injury from exposure to dibromochloropropane, a chemical used as an agricultural pesticide in their home countries. The Dole petitioners impleaded petitioners Dead Sea Bromine Co., Ltd., and Bromine [**1659]  Compounds, Ltd. (collectively, the Dead Sea Companies). The merits of the suit are not before us.

 The Dole petitioners removed the action to the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), arguing that [****8]  the federal common law of foreign relations provided federal-question jurisdiction under § 1331. The District Court agreed there was federal subject-matter jurisdiction under the federal common law of  [*472]  foreign relations but, nevertheless, dismissed the case on grounds of forum non conveniens.

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538 U.S. 468 *; 123 S. Ct. 1655 **; 155 L. Ed. 2d 643 ***; 2003 U.S. LEXIS 3242 ****; 71 U.S.L.W. 4301; 2003 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3360; 2003 Daily Journal DAR 4217; 188 A.L.R. Fed. 661; 16 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 225

DOLE FOOD COMPANY, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. GERARDO DENNIS PATRICKSON ET AL.; DEAD SEA BROMINE CO., LTD., AND BROMINE COMPOUNDS LIMITED, PETITIONERS v. GERARDO DENNIS PATRICKSON, ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]  ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

Patrickson v. Dole Food Co., 251 F.3d 795, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 11207 (9th Cir. Haw., 2001)

Disposition: Affirmed in part and certiorari dismissed in part.

foreign state, shares, subsidiary, instrumentality, ownership, immunity, ownership interest, shareholder, entities, sovereign immunity, federal court, owns, purposes, removal, foreign nation, words, cases, corporate entity, corporate parent, corporate law, wholly owned, depart, tiers

Business & Corporate Law, Foreign Corporations, General Overview, International Law, Sovereign Immunity, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Construction & Interpretation, Foreign & International Immunity, Civil Procedure, Removal, Specific Cases Removed, Actions Against Foreign States, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Preliminary Considerations, Elements for Removal, Federal Venue, Admiralty & Maritime Law, Foreign Governments, Corporate Formation, Corporate Existence, Powers & Purpose, Shareholder Duties & Liabilities, Piercing the Corporate Veil, Exceptions, Corporations, Corporate Finance, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Environmental Law, Hazardous Wastes & Toxic Substances, CERCLA & Superfund, Torts, Vicarious Liability, Jurisdiction Over Actions