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Media Alerts - Singh v. Caribbean Airlines, Ltd.
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September 16, 2015
  Singh v. Caribbean Airlines, Ltd.
Headline: The Eleventh Circuit, in applying the core functions test, holds that the Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago ("Minister") qualifies as a political subdivision of a foreign state.

Area of Law: Foreign Sovereignty

Issue(s): Whether the Minister qualifies as a political subdivision of a foreign state, thereby entitling Caribbean Airlines, Ltd. ("CAL") immunity from a jury trial under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA").

Brief Summary: Appellant, Soorajnine Singh ("Singh") filed a complaint against Appellee, CAL in state court. CAL removed the matter to the district court and sought to strike Singh's jury demand, claiming jury immunity under the FSIA. The district court granted the motion to strike. The Eleventh Circuit, applying the core functions test, affirmed.

Extended Summary: On December 15, 2011, Singh suffered a stroke on board a CAL flight. CAL is organized under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago and is majority-owned by the Minister. CAL moved to strike Singh's jury demand claiming it qualified as a "foreign state," as defined in the FSIA, and sought jury immunity. The district court granted CAL's motion to strike and, after a bench trial, found CAL not negligent.

On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, concluding the Minister was a political subdivision of Trinidad and Tobago, and thus, CAL qualified as an agency or instrumentality of the country. The court explained for purposes of asserting immunity from a jury trial under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1441(d), majority-owned subsidiaries of political subdivisions are entitled to foreign state status under the FSIA. The Eleventh Circuit adopted the core functions test as the appropriate standard to determine whether an entity qualifies as a political subdivision of a foreign state.

To view the full opinion:

Panel: Marcus and Wilson, Circuit Judges, and Thapar (United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky, sitting by designation)

Argument: May 21, 2015

Date of Issued Opinion: August 20, 2015

Docket Number: 14-14661

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Lizbell Lucero, Evelin Mac Clay, Evan Phoenix, and Daniel Villavisanis

Counsel: Charles M-P George for Appellants
John Maggio for Appellee

Author of Opinion: Wilson, Circuit Judge

    Posted By: Gary Kravitz @ 09/16/2015 01:54 PM     11th Circuit  

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