UAB Skyroad Leasing v OJSC Tajik Air - United States District Court for the District of Columbia - Civil Action No 2020-0763 - Memorandum Opinion by Judge Amit P. Mehta - 26 January 2021
Petitioner UAB Skyroad Leasing ("Skyroad") brings this action to enforce a 2018 arbitral award against Respondent OJSC Tajik Air ("Tajik Air") issued by the Vilnius Court of Commercial Arbitration ("VCCA") in Vilnius, Lithuania. The VCCA tribunal awarded Skyroad $20,216,425.54 in damages, and 78,700.58 and $6,773.60 in legal costs, plus interest. Tajik Air has yet to pay any amount of the award, and appears in this matter to contest the court's jurisdiction over it. Tajik Air contends that personal jurisdiction is lacking because (1) Skyroad failed to execute service of process consistent with the requirements of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), and (2) jurisdiction over Tajik Air cannot be exercised consistent with the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Tajik Air demands dismissal of Skyroad's petition.
Under the FSIA, Tajik Air is considered an instrumentality of a foreign state--the Republic of Tajikistan is the company's sole shareholder. As an instrumentality, Tajik Air is presumed to be separate from its foreign-state owner and, under Circuit precedent, enjoys the protections of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. That presumption is rebuttable, however, and can be overcome by a showing that Tajikistan completely dominates Tajik Air or that Tajik Air is an agent of the sovereign, or that recognizing Tajik Air as a separate entity would work fraud or injustice. Skyroad attempts to make these showings, but its evidence falls short. It demonstrates neither an unusual degree of control by Tajikistan over Tajik Air nor that recognizing separateness work fraud or injustice. Accordingly, for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction over Tajik Air consistent with the Due Process Clause, the company must have sufficient minimum contacts with the United States. The record reveals none. Therefore, the court grants Tajik Air's motion to dismiss. The court does not reach Tajik Air's claim of improper service.