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Media Alerts - Manoharan v. Rajapaksa
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March 29, 2013
  Manoharan v. Rajapaksa
Headline: D.C. Circuit holds sitting head of state is immune from suit under the Torture Victim Protection Act

Alert Type: New

Area of Law: Foreign sovereign immunity

Issue(s) Presented:
Whether plaintiffs may bring suit against a current head of state under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA)

Brief Summary: Plaintiffs sought to bring a civil action against the current President of Sri Lanka under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), 28 U.S.C. ยง 1350 note. The defendant appeared in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for the limited purpose of requesting the opinion of the United States as to whether he was immune from suit. Without expressing any opinion regarding the merits of the plaintiffs' claims, the State Department determined that, as the sitting head of a foreign state, President Rajapaksa was entitled to head of state immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, and the district court dismissed plaintiffs' case.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the district court's decision, finding that the concept of head of state immunity and the procedure for invoking it were well established under common law and that the TVPA did not abrogate that common law immunity.

For the full text of this opinion, visit:

Panel (if known): Garland, Brown, Kavanaugh

Argument Date: 3/8/2013

Date of Issued Opinion: 3/29/2013

Docket Number: No. 12-5087

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Ripple Weistling

Supervisors: Elizabeth Beske and Ripple Weistling

Counsel, if known:
Bruce Fein for appellants.

Mitchell R. Berger and Benjamin D. Wood for appellee.

Author of Opinion:
Per Curiam

Author of Dissent: N/A

Circuit: D.C. Circuit

    Posted By: Ripple Weistling @ 03/29/2013 01:45 PM     DC Circuit  

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