Civil Procedure Keyed to Field
Kadic v. Karadzic
Defendant was the president of the self-proclaimed Bosnian-Serb republic of Srpska and his military forces were alleged to have committed atrocities against Croats and Muslims such as human rights violations, genocide, rape, forced prostitution and impregnation, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, summary execution, and wrongful death. Croat and Muslim victims of these atrocities committed by Bosnian-Serb military forces under Defendant’s command sued Defendant in federal district court under the Alien Tort Act. The Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, creates federal jurisdiction over suits alleging torts committed in violation of the law of nations, no matter where in the world they occurred. The complaints alleged that Defendant acted in his official capacity either as the head of Srpska or in collaboration with the government of the former Yugoslavia and its dominant republic, Serbia. The plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and injunctive relief. In 1993, Defendant traveled to the United States on three occasions as an invitee of the United Nations. During two of those visits, Defendant was allegedly personally served with the summons and complaint on each action while he was physically present in Manhattan, outside of the “headquarters district” of the United Nations, and engaging in non-United Nations-related activities. Defendant moved to dismiss, claiming insufficient service of process, lack of personal jurisdiction, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and non-justiciability. His primary argument was that he was immune from service of process while in the United States as a United Nations invitee because of the Agreement between the United Nations and United States of America Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations (Headquarters Agreement) and federal common law. The Headquarters Agreement does provide immunity from service of process while within the United Nations headquarters district for all invitees, and in any location for certain representatives of United Nations members. It also prevents government authorities from impeding the transit of any United Nations invitee to or from the headquarters district. The district court dismissed the suits for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and Plaintiff appealed.
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