Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela et al v Crystallex International Corporation - Supreme Court of The United States - Case No 19-1049 - Petition for a Writ of Certiorari - 19 February 2020
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1330, 1602 et seq., provides that foreign sovereigns and their instrumentalities are immune from suit, and that foreign sovereign property is immune from attachment, unless one of the FSIA's enumerated exceptions to immunity applies. This case concerns respondent Crystallex's efforts to enforce a judgment obtained against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela by attaching the property of Venezuela's national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA). In the decision below, the Third Circuit affirmed the district court's exercise of ancillary enforcement jurisdiction with respect to PDVSA, despite the absence of any basis under the FSIA for doing so. The court of appeals further held that PDVSA was an alter ego of Venezuela, even though there was no connection between Venezuela's control over PDVSA and respondent Crystallex's injuries--as would be required to treat a private corporation as another entity's alter ego. The questions presented are:
1. Whether a judgment-enforcement action against a foreign sovereign and its instrumentality must be predicated on applicable exceptions to the immunity provided by the FSIA.
2. Whether a plaintiff can overcome the presumption of juridical separateness between a foreign sovereign and its instrumentality in the absence of any connection between the foreign sovereign's control over its instrumentality and the plaintiff's injuries.