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Lawrence W. Newman and David Zaslowsky Lawrence W. Newman and David Zaslowsky

We occasionally use our July column to look back at the international litigation and arbitration issues decided in the U.S. Supreme Court’s most recently ended term. In this month’s column, we look at Supreme Court decisions relating to service of process under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), the immunity of international organizations, and class action arbitration. (Another important arbitration decision in this Supreme Court term, Henry Schein v. Archer and White Sales, No. 17-1272, 2019 WL 122164 (Jan. 8, 2019), was discussed in detail in our March 20, 2019 New York Law Journal column, “Competence-Competence: A Comparative Analysis.”) Interestingly, in all three, the Supreme Court reversed the respective circuit court.

Service of Process Under FSIA

Sudan v. Harrison, No. 16-1094, (March 26, 2019), was a lawsuit by victims of the bombing of the USS Cole who have been trying to hold the government of Sudan responsible for providing support to the al-Qaeda bombers who killed 17 sailors and injured 42 more in 2000. The FSIA generally immunizes foreign states from suit in the United States unless one of several enumerated exceptions to immunity applies. 28 U.S.C. §§1604, 1605-1607. The FSIA includes its own service of process regime, which works in step-like fashion, meaning that one goes to the succeeding service option once the prior one is unavailing. Here, the relevant service option was service “by any form of mail requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched…to the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state concerned.” §1608(a)(3).

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