88 Volume 23, October–December 2017 international law update
© 2017 International Law Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ISSN 1089-5450, ISSN 1943-1287 (on-line) |
delay” and the “length of the delay.” On the rst
point, Sudan correctly notes that precedent in this
Circuit supports a liberal application of Rule 60(b)
(1) to default judgments. See Jackson v. Beech, 636
F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir. 1980). is stems from
the general policy favoring adjudication on the
merits. Id.; Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 181-82,
83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962).
e U.S. Government on many occasions
has submitted an amicus brief urging vacatur of a
default judgment against a foreign sovereign. In this
case, however, it is signicant that the Government
has not taken a position on Sudan’s motion to
vacate. Sudan’s own actions place it well outside
the general policy favoring vacatur. In the cases it
cites, relief was justied because the defendant had
no notice of the default and promptly responded
once made aware of the judgment. Furthermore,
this is not the rst time Sudan has sought to vacate
its default or default judgment. In May 2003 the
district court entered a default against Sudan for
failure to appear. Ten months later, Sudan secured
counsel and moved for vacatur under Rule 55(c),
which the court granted based upon the very
“presumption against an entry of default judgment
against a foreign state” that Sudan claims the court
ignored in 2016. Beyond relying upon the general
policy in favor of vacatur, Sudan challenges the
reasoning behind the district court’s decision. In
particular, Sudan faults the district court for holding
it responsible for its domestic troubles, contending
a court may not consider “the question of blame”
in analyzing excusable neglect. As a nal argument
under Rule 60(b)(1), Sudan faults the district court’s
comparison of this case to FG Hemisphere. In FG
Hemisphere, the court vacated a default judgment
against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
rendered under the FSIA exception for commercial
activity, § 1605(a)(2). Nor can Sudan claim to be
surprised by the suits, as was the defendant in FG
Hemisphere. Sudan actively participated in the
litigation from February 2004 until January 2005.
In conclusion, the Court (1) arms the district
court’s ndings of jurisdiction with respect to all
plaintis and all claims; (2) arms the district court’s
denial of vacatur; (3) vacates all awards of punitive
damages; and (4) certies a question of state law—
whether a plainti must be present at the scene of a
terrorist bombing in order to recover for IIED—to
the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
citation: Owens v. Republic of Sudan, 864 F. 3d
751 (D.C. Cir.).
Ninth Circuit reviews request for
declaratory judgment by the Republic
of the Marshall Islands that the
United States is in breach of its treaty
obligations; Court finds dispute non-
justiciable and within the realm of the
executive, not the judiciary
e following case involves an attempt by the
Republic of the Marshall Islands (“the Marshall
Islands”), a chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls
in the Pacic Ocean with approximately 54,000
inhabitants, to force the U.S. to pursue good faith
negotiations pursuant to Article VI of the Treaty
on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (the
“Treaty” or the “Non-Proliferation Treaty”) (calling
on each party to the Treaty “to pursue negotiations in
good faith on eective measures” to end the nuclear
arms race and accomplish nuclear disarmament).
In 2014, the Marshall Islands led the present
action in U.S. district court for a declaratory
judgment and injunctive relief, noting the “the
grim legacy of the United States nuclear weapons
program,” including the detonation of sixty-
seven nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands.
In the complaint, the Marshall Islands requested
a declaration that Article VI imposes obligations
on the United States to: (1) “pursue negotiations
in good faith on eective measures relating to
cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date
and to nuclear disarmament”; and (2) “bring
to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear
disarmament in all its aspects under strict and
eective control.” Further, the Marshall Islands
requested a declaration that the United States is
“in continuing breach” of its Article VI obligation

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