Dole Food Co. v. Patrickson, 538 U.S. 468 (2003)

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468

OCTOBER TERM, 2002

Syllabus

DOLE FOOD CO. et al. v. PATRICKSON et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 01-593. Argued January 22, 2003—Decided April 22, 2003*

Plaintiffs filed a state-court action against Dole Food Company and others

(Dole petitioners), alleging injury from chemical exposure. The Dole petitioners impleaded petitioners Dead Sea Bromine Co. and Bromine Compounds, Ltd. (collectively, the Dead Sea Companies). The Dole petitioners removed the action to federal court under 28 U. S. C. 1441(a), arguing that the federal common law of foreign relations provided federal-question jurisdiction under 1331. The District Court agreed it had jurisdiction, but dismissed the case on other grounds. As to the Dead Sea Companies, the court rejected their claim that they are instrumentalities of a foreign state (Israel) as defined by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA), and are therefore entitled to removal under 1441(d). The Ninth Circuit reversed. As to the Dole petitioners, it held removal could not rest on the federal common law of foreign relations. Regarding the Dead Sea Companies, the court noted, but declined to answer, the question whether status as an instrumentality of a foreign state is assessed at the time of the alleged wrongdoing or at the time suit is filed. It held that the Dead Sea Companies, even at the earlier date, were not instrumentalities of Israel because they did not meet the FSIA's instrumentality definition.

Held:

1. The writ of certiorari is dismissed in No. 01-593, as the Dole petitioners did not seek review in this Court of the Ninth Circuit's ruling on the federal common law of foreign relations. P. 472.

2. A foreign state must itself own a majority of a corporation's shares if the corporation is to be deemed an instrumentality of the state under the FSIA. Israel did not have direct ownership of shares in either of the Dead Sea Companies at any time pertinent to this action. Rather, they were, at various times, separated from Israel by one or more intermediate corporate tiers. As indirect subsidiaries of Israel, the companies cannot come within the statutory language granting instrumentality status to an entity a "majority of whose shares or other ownership interest is owned by a foreign state or political subdivision thereof."

*Together with No. 01-594, Dead Sea Bromine Co., Ltd., et al. v. Patrickson et al., also on certiorari to the same court.

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