Conti chartered its cargo vessel, the M/V FLAMINIA, to the Mediterranean Shipping Company ("MSC"). During one voyage, the FLAMINIA received three chemical tanks from the Port of New Orleans. The tanks exploded during Atlantic transit, causing extensive damage and three deaths. After a London arbitration panel awarded Conti $200 million, Conti sued to confirm the award in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The district court, ruling it had personal jurisdiction over MSC because the tanks had been loaded in New Orleans, confirmed the award. MSC appealed, arguing the court lacked personal jurisdiction.
While agreeing with much of the district court's well-stated decision, we must reverse because we conclude the court lacked personal jurisdiction over MSC. We agree with the district court that, when assessing personal jurisdiction to confirm an award under the New York Convention, a court should consider contacts related to the underlying dispute--not only contacts related to the arbitration itself. That holding aligns us with every other circuit to have considered the issue. But we disagree with the district court that MSC waived its personal jurisdiction defense through its insurer's issuance of a letter of understanding that was expressly conditioned on MSC's reserving all litigation defenses. We also disagree that the sole forum contact, the loading of the tanks in New Orleans, conferred specific personal jurisdiction over MSC. That contact arose from the unilateral activities of other parties whose actions are not attributable to MSC.
Accordingly, we REVERSE and REMAND with instructions to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.