Indem. Ins. Co. of N. Am. v. Expeditors Int’l of Washington Inc., 17-cv-2575 (Feb. 19, 2019), Oetken, J.
The Southern District of New York has confirmed this month that for purposes of international dispute resolution adjudicated in the U.S., China cannot bind Taiwan to international treaties even though the State Department has expressly recognized that Taiwan is a part of China.
In the decision by (District) Judge J. Paul Oetken, the Southern District recently considered arguments involving the transport and damage of goods transported by plane from Florida, U.S., to Taiwan. The goods were damaged in transit and the plaintiff asserted that the Montreal Convention should apply to the dispute. Both China and the U.S. have ratified the Montreal Convention of 1999 (formally, the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air); Taiwan has not ratified it. Generally, for the Convention to apply, both the departure and arrival locations must be situated in signatory countries.
In declining to hold the Montreal Convention applicable, the Court was persuaded by and applied the reasoning of the Ninth Circuit in Mingtai Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. United Parcel Service, 177 F.3d 1142 (9th Cir. 1999). The Ninth Circuit held that because “the question of Taiwan’s status…is a question for the political branches, rather than the judiciary” the court has to determine the position of the government by reviewing various government sources including the Taiwan Relations Act, 22 U.S.C. §3301 et seq., which “strongly impl[ies] that, despite the absence of official relations, the United States continues to deal separately with Taiwan.”
The Southern District’s holding is notable for two reasons. First, it expressly extends the reasoning of Mingtai Fire, which dealt only with the Warsaw Convention, to any other treaty – including the Montreal Convention – to which China is a signatory and Taiwan is not (absent different, treaty-specific guidance). Second, it confirms that since the decision in Mingtai Fire, twenty years ago, the government’s position on Taiwan has not changed sufficiently to sway the courts.
For more information on this topic, please contact us.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the mid-Atlantic region. With over 185 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our twelve offices serve individual and corporate clients along the I95 corridor in the Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City regions. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.
Find out why Offit Kurman is The Better Way to protect your business, your assets and your family by connecting via our Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn pages. You can also sign up to receive Law Matters, Offit Kurman’s monthly newsletter covering a diverse selection of legal and corporate thought leadership content.
MARYLAND | PENNSYLVANIA | VIRGINIA| NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK | DELAWARE | WASHINGTON, DC