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28 U.S.C.S. § 1782(a) provides that a U.S. district court may, on the request of an interested party, 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.
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 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.
Can a party to a private arbitration in the United Kingdom, under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, obtain testimony from residents of South Carolina for use in the arbitration?
The court held that the district court erred in denying Servotronics' motion under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1782 to obtain certain testimony for use in a private arbitration in the United Kingdom because the UK arbitral panel was a foreign tribunal for purposes of § 1782.