Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiffs brought action against manufacturer for a personal injury arising from the crash of an aircraft that was made in France.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The United States, France, and 15 other countries have agreed to The Hague Evidence Convention, which provides procedures by which a judicial authority in one contracting state may request evidence located in another.
Although not conclusive, the meaning attributed to treaty provisions by the Government agencies charged with their negotiation and enforcement is entitled to great weight.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether Hague Evidence Convention provides exclusive and mandatory procedures for obtaining documents and information located in a foreign signatory’s territory
Held. No. The Supreme Court, Justice Stevens, held that: (1) Hague Evidence Convention applied to request for information from foreign national which was a party to the litigation; (2) Hague Evidence Convention did not provide exclusive and mandatory procedure for obtaining documents and information located within territorial foreign signatory; (3) first resort to Hague Convention was not required; and (4) Hague Convention did not deprive district court of jurisdiction it otherwise possessed to order foreign national party before it to produce evidence physically located within a foreign signatory nation. Vacated and remanded.
Discussion. When a district court has jurisdiction over a foreign litigant, the Convention does not apply even though the information sought may be physically located within the territory of a foreign signatory to the Convention.