DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum Exploration
United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
2018 WL 1057029 (2018)
John Paul DeJoria (plaintiff), an American citizen, and Maghreb Petroleum Exploration, S.A. (MPE) (defendant), a Moroccan company, were among several investors in the Moroccan royal family’s project to develop Morocco’s oil resources. The project failed, much to the royal family’s embarrassment. MPE blamed the failure on DeJoria and sued him for fraud in a Moroccan court, which entered judgment for MPE and awarded damages of almost $123 million. MPE sued to enforce the Moroccan judgment in an American federal district court. After hearing evidence that agents of the Moroccan royal family intimidated judges, suppressed public support for DeJoria, threatened DeJoria’s life if he appeared in court, and made it impossible for DeJoria to retain local counsel, the district court ruled that DeJoria could not have obtained justice through the Moroccan courts and entered judgment against MPE. The Fifth Circuit reversed on appeal, ruling that DeJoria failed to carry his heavy burden of proving that the entire Moroccan court system was unfair. On remand, a magistrate judge determined that recent amendments to Texas’s version of the Uniform Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act (UFMJRA) applied retroactively to the case. The magistrate judge heard additional evidence that expanded on and tended to confirm the district court’s initial fact-findings.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Austin, J.)
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