Enjoining Foreign Counter-Lawsuits Against Clients

by Richard M. Martin, Jr.

Lamothe Law Firm is pleased to announce a major U.S. Fifth Circuit decision which protects U.S. court foreign plaintiffs against a defendant’s retaliatory lawsuit in the foreign plaintiff’s home country.

In Ganpat v. Eastern Pacific Shipping, PTE, No. 22-30168 (Fifth Cir., April 28, 2023), Lamothe Firm attorney and Proctor in Admiralty Richard M. Martin, Jr. convinced U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan (E.D. La.) to grant a permanent injunction against Eastern Pacific Shipping’s foreign lawsuit (in India) against Lamothe Firm’s Jones Act client Kholkar Ganpat. Eastern Pacific appealed Judge Morgan’s ruling to the U.S. Fifth Circuit. Mr. Martin presented oral argument in August 2022 and on April 28, 2023, the Fifth Circuit’s published opinion affirmed Judge Morgan’s order. This Fifth Circuit opinion is important because it prevents well-funded corporate defendants from instigating foreign “end run” lawsuits intended to coerce “pennies on the dollar” foreign settlements and thus end their exposure to a U.S. court judgment. In taking Eastern Pacific to task for the abusive and vexatious retaliatory suit in India, the U.S. Fifth Circuit explained the perils of retaliatory foreign lawsuits in its opinion: “Litigating in a foreign country can be fraught with peril. The basic procedural and substantive protections guaranteed litigants in American courts are often taken for granted here—yet sharply limited or missing entirely before tribunals in foreign lands.”

This case provides a vivid illustration: An individual brings tort and contract claims in federal court in Louisiana against a foreign corporation. In response, the corporation evades service and brings a countersuit in India, before a court where the individual lacks counsel and is instead forced to take legal advice from the corporation’s own attorneys. Predictably, the corporation’s attorneys act in direct conflict with the individual’s interests. The corporation’s attorneys not only pressure him to settle—they even manage to convince the foreign court to place him in prison, based on a bizarre claim that the individual does not object to imprisonment without bail while the case is pending.

In response to these alarming developments abroad, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana unsurprisingly entered an anti-suit injunction to prevent the foreign corporation from litigating the same issues simultaneously before the court in India. This was consistent with Fifth Circuit precedents which have long authorized district courts to enter anti-suit injunctions like the one entered here.”

If your client has become the victim of a retaliatory foreign court lawsuit, and you want advice on how to fight and win that battle, contact Lamothe Law Firm.

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