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Supreme Court of the United States
October 5, 2015, Argued; December 1, 2015, Decided
[*29] Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act shields foreign states and their agencies from suit in United States courts unless the suit falls within one of the Act’s specifically enumerated exceptions. This case concerns the scope of the commercial activity exception, which withdraws sovereign immunity in any case “in which the action is based upon a commercial activity [**393] carried on in the United States by [a] foreign state.” 28 U.S.C. §1605(a)(2).
Respondent Carol Sachs is a resident of California who purchased in the United States a Eurail pass for rail travel in Europe. She suffered traumatic personal injuries when she fell onto the tracks at the Innsbruck, Austria, train station while attempting to board a train operated by the Austrian state-owned railway. She sued the railway in Federal District Court, arguing that her suit was not [***273] barred by sovereign immunity [****5] because it is “based upon” the railway’s sale of the pass to her in the United States. We disagree and conclude that her action is instead “based upon” the railway’s conduct in Innsbruck. We therefore hold that her suit falls outside the commercial activity exception and is barred by sovereign immunity.
Petitioner OBB Personenverkehr AG (OBB) operates a railway that carries nearly 235 million passengers each year on routes within Austria and to and from points beyond Austria’s frontiers. OBB is wholly owned by OBB Holding Group, a joint-stock company created by the Republic of Austria. OBB Holding Group in turn is wholly owned by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation, and Technology. Sachs v. Republic of Austria, 737 F. 3d 584, 587 (CA9 2013).
OBB—along with 29 other railways throughout Europe—is a member of the Eurail Group, an association responsible [*30] for the marketing and management of the Eurail pass program. Brief for International Rail Transport Committee as Amicus Curiae 12; 737 F. 3d, at 587. Eurail passes allow their holders unlimited passage for a set period of time on participating Eurail Group railways. They are available only to non-Europeans, who may purchase them both directly from the Eurail Group and indirectly through a worldwide [****6] network of travel agents. Brief for International Rail Transport Committee as Amicus Curiae 12-13, and n. 3; Brief for Respondent 4-5.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
577 U.S. 27 *; 136 S. Ct. 390 **; 193 L. Ed. 2d 269 ***; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 7670 ****; 84 U.S.L.W. 4011; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P19,736; 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 561
OBB PERSONENVERKEHR AG, Petitioner v. CAROL P. SACHS
Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.
Prior History: [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
Sachs v. Republic of Aus., 737 F.3d 584, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24290 (9th Cir. Cal., 2013)
commercial activity, sovereign immunity, railway, train, foreign state, courts, warn, cause of action, district court
International Law, Foreign & International Immunity, Sovereign Immunity, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Exceptions, Commercial Activities, Commercial Activities, Substantial Contacts, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review