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Servotronics, Inc. v. Boeing Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

December 10, 2019, Argued; March 30, 2020, Decided

No. 18-2454

Opinion

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:

The question in this case is whether a party to a private arbitration in the United Kingdom can, under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, obtain testimony from residents of South Carolina for use in the arbitration. Section 1782(a) provides that a U.S. district court may, on the request of an interested party, [*2]  provide assistance in connection with a proceeding before "a foreign or international tribunal" by ordering a person in its district "to give his testimony or statement or to produce a document or other thing for use in [the] proceeding." The parties disagree as to whether the UK arbitration panel is a "foreign or international tribunal," as that phrase is used in § 1782(a).

Servotronics, Inc., supplied a valve to Rolls-Royce PLC that Rolls-Royce installed in an engine that it manufactured and supplied to The Boeing Company for installation on a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. In January 2016, while testing the engine at Boeing's plant in South Carolina, the engine caught fire, causing significant damage to Boeing's aircraft. After Rolls-Royce settled Boeing's claim for damages, it sought indemnification in the amount of $12.8 million from Servotronics, contending that a malfunction of Servotronics' valve caused the fire. On Servotronics' rejection of the claim, Rolls-Royce commenced an arbitration proceeding in the United Kingdom, as required by the standing contract between the parties.

To obtain evidence for use in the UK arbitration, Servotronics filed an application in the district court [*3]  under § 1782 to obtain testimony from three Boeing employees residing in South Carolina. The district court denied Servotronics' application, concluding that the private arbitration between Servotronics and Rolls-Royce was not before a "foreign tribunal" as that term is used in § 1782 and therefore that the court lacked authority under § 1782 to provide the assistance requested.

Because we conclude that the arbitral panel in the United Kingdom is indeed a foreign tribunal for purposes of § 1782, we reverse and remand for further proceedings on Servotronics' application.

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2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 9872 *; 954 F.3d 209

SERVOTRONICS, INC., Movant - Appellant, v. THE BOEING COMPANY; ROLLS-ROYCE PLC, Intervenors - Appellees.

Prior History:  [*1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Charleston. (2:18-mc-00364-DCN). David C. Norton, District Judge.

In re Servotronics, Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189423 (D.S.C., Nov. 6, 2018)

Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

arbitration, tribunal, district court, discovery, authorizes, proceedings, parties, courts, engine, subpoenas, awards, private arbitration, appointed, documents, regulated, aircraft, disputes, argues, valve

International Law, Dispute Resolution, Evidence, Assistance Obtaining Evidence, Business & Corporate Compliance, Arbitration, Federal Arbitration Act, Scope