Last week, Magistrate Judge Cave ruled that the New York Attorney General’s Office (“OAG”) was protected from having to comply with a document subpoena under Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. The subpoena was issued by former Governor Cuomo, in connection with a defending against a civil lawsuit involving allegations overlapping with matters that OAG had investigated.

Judge Cave was faced with a a question that the Second Circuit has not yet resolved: whether “a subpoena to a state agency and subsequent efforts to enforce it are ‘the type of proceeding[] from which the Framers would have thought the States possessed immunity when they agreed to enter the Union.’” She concluded that OAG was immune:

Continue Reading Magistrate Judge Cave: Eleventh Amendment Sovereign Immunity Bars Enforcement of Document Subpoena to NY Attorney General’s Office

By issuing the OAG Subpoena, and then seeking to enforce it through the OAG MTC, Mr. Cuomo has twice invoked ‘the Judicial power of the United States,’ to require the OAG to produce the Requested Materials, i.e., to ‘compel [the OAG] to act[.]’

Continue Reading Magistrate Judge Cave: Eleventh Amendment Sovereign Immunity Bars Enforcement of Document Subpoena to NY Attorney General’s Office

In an opinion Tuesday, Judge Kaplan denied the Justice Department’s motion to substitute the United States for Donald Trump as the defendant in a defamation suit against the president in his individual capacity. The plaintiff, E. Jean Carroll, published a book excerpt in 2019 alleging that Trump raped her in the mid-1990s. Trump told the press that Carroll made the story up, and Carroll sued him for defamation. The Justice Department intervened, arguing that the lawsuit was really one against the United States because Carroll had sued an “employee” of the United States for actions within the scope of his employment.

Judge Kaplan held that the president is a constitutional officer rather than a government “employee,” and that the allegedly defamatory statements were not made within the scope of his employment because, as the chief executive of the United States government, no one else has the power to control his conduct: “To hold that someone else exercises control over the president would turn the Constitution on its head.” On this point, Judge Kaplan continued:Continue Reading Judge Kaplan Rejects Justice Department’s Attempt to Intervene on Trump’s Behalf in Defamation Suit

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Koeltl dismissed discrimination and retaliation claims from a chauffeur for the Swedish foreign ministry, finding that the case did not fall within the “commercial” exception to sovereign immunity:

In his capacity as a chauffeur, the plaintiff was responsible for transporting the Swedish Ambassador and the Ambassador’s family, Swedish diplomats and

In an opinion today, Judge Scheindlin granted the State of Israel’s motion to quash, on sovereign immunity grounds, a subpoena to a former Israeli national security official, Uzi Shaya.  The underlying case accuses the Bank of China of aiding and abetting a 2006 suicide bombing in Israel, and Mr. Shaya allegedly had knowledge of the Bank of China funding terrorism.  Judge Scheindlin ruled that Israel had standing to object, and that its objections were valid:
Continue Reading Judge Scheindlin Rules That Sovereign Immunity Protects Former Israeli Security Official From Deposition

In an opinion Friday, Judge Rakoff ruled that the German state of Bavaria was entitled to sovereign immunity in a suit seeking return of a Picasso painting called Madame Soler that was allegedly the subject of a forced transfer from Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy to Justin Thannhauser under the then-Nazi regime in Germany  in 1934. Mr. Thannhauser later relocated to New York and then transferred the painting to Bavaria to be displayed in a museum. The plaintiffs sought to invoke an exception to sovereign immunity for commercial activity having a substantial connection to the United States, but Judge Rakoff ruled that the case, at bottom, concerned the events in Germany, not New York:
Continue Reading Judge Rakoff Rules Bavaria Has Sovereign Immunity From Suit Seeking Return of Picasso Painting

In an opinion issued yesterday, Judge Furman allowed the majority of securities fraud claims against a state-owned sovereign wealth fund in Kazakhstan to proceed, denying the fund’s motion to dismiss on sovereign immunity and other grounds.  The plaintiffs purchased notes in a Kazakh bank majority owned by the fund.  The notes were sold only over the Kazakhstan and Luxembourg stock exchanges, but over 80% of the notes were denominated in U.S. dollars. Recognizing that state actors are generally immune to suit in a U.S. court, Judge Furman held that the sovereign wealth fund’s actions fit the “commercial activities” exception to the rule:
Continue Reading “Commercial Activities” Exception to Sovereign Immunity Rule Applies to Kazakhstan-Owned Investment Fund