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Institute of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

725 F.3d 940 (2013)

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Institute of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

725 F.3d 940 (2013)

Facts

In 1946, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) was passed. The ICRW provided that whale hunting was permissible if a signatory nation granted the hunter a research permit. The United States and Japan were among the signatories to the ICRW. As authorized under the ICRW, Japan issued a research permit to researchers associated with the Institute of Cetacean Research (Cetacean) (plaintiff). While Cetacean was on the high seas, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Sea Shepherd) (defendant), in protest to whale hunting, damaged Cetacean’s ship and threw containers of acid and smoke bombs at the crew. Cetacean sued Sea Shepherd under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, which creates a cause of action for a committed tort that is violative of a treaty or the law of nations. Cetacean alleged that Sea Shepherd violated the law of nations, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the High Seas Convention by committing piracy. The district court dismissed the case on the ground that Sea Shepherd’s actions did not meet the definition of piracy provided in the conventions. Cetacean appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kozinski, C.J.)

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