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Abdul Latif Jameel Transp. Co. v. FedEx Corp. (In re Application to Obtain Discovery for Use in Foreign Proceedings)

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

August 8, 2019, Argued; September 19, 2019, Decided; September 19, 2019, Filed

File Name: 19a0246p.06

No. 19-5315


 [*713]  [***2]   JOHN K. BUSH, Circuit Judge. Thomas Jefferson once counseled his nephew Peter Carr on how to think: "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion."1 This case calls upon us to do just that. We must decide whether Abdul Latif Jameel Transportation Company Limited ("ALJ"), a Saudi corporation, may rely on 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a) to discover facts from FedEx Corporation ("FedEx Corp."), a U.S.-based corporation, for use in a commercial arbitration pending in a foreign [**2]  country. ] Under § 1782(a), a federal district court may order discovery "for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal" upon application by "any interested person." Jefferson used the word "tribunal" in a metaphorical sense to refer to the mind. We must decide whether Congress used the words "foreign or international tribunal"  [*714]  in a literal sense that includes the commercial arbitration involved here.

In its § 1782(a) discovery application, ALJ sought a subpoena for documents from FedEx Corp. and deposition testimony of a corporate representative of that company. ALJ alleges that FedEx Corp. was involved in contract negotiations and performance of two contracts between ALJ and FedEx International Incorporated ("FedEx International"), a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. Each contract became the subject of a commercial arbitration, one pending in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates ("UAE"), the other brought in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As explained below, we only address the availability of discovery for the Dubai arbitration because the arbitration in Saudi Arabia was dismissed, rendering moot ALJ's application as it pertains to this latter proceeding.

The district [**3]  court denied ALJ's application, holding that the phrase "foreign or international tribunal" in § 1782(a) did not encompass either of the two arbitrations. ALJ now appeals, arguing that the phrase "foreign or international tribunal" does include such proceedings and that ALJ's discovery request should be granted.

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939 F.3d 710 *; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 28348 **; 2019 FED App. 0246P (6th Cir.) ***; 2019 WL 4509287


Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis. No. 2:18-mc-00021—Jon Phipps McCalla, District Judge.


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