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Keeping Up With Piracy

A Taiwanese citizen sued the U.S.A. for killing her husband and sinking his fishing vessel in connection with a NATO counter-piracy initiative. That is, her husband was a hostage aboard his vessel which had been overrun by pirates when in the midst of an engagement with NATO forces he was killed. The trial court dismissed the claims reasoning they presented political questions and bolstered its dismissal by explaining the claims were futile anyway because of sovereign immunity issues. A week or so ago, the appellate court agreed explaining that "allowing this action to proceed would thrust courts into the middle of a sensitive multinational counter-piracy operation and force courts to second-guess the conduct of a military engagement."

I don't like the outcome, but I understand the outcome. The judiciary is reluctant to scramble atop the chain of command and make rulings as to what was and wasn't appropriate. That'd be more than just a slippery slope as you can imagine such future scenarios as soldiers worrying tort liability for following commands. Still, it does seem our judiciary isn't so reluctant to assume jurisdiction over foreign nationals playing pirate in foreign waters.

Whatever the case, if your business or your interest intersects with neighborhoods frequented by pirates, you may wish to check our The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia is a government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery in Asia

Not bad fodder for you wheelhouse lawyers to chew on.

Underway and making way.

By: John K. Fulweiler


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