Saudi Arabia v. Nelson
United States Supreme Court
507 U.S. 349 (1993)
The government of Saudi Arabia (defendant) owned and operated a specialist hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which it staffed through the services of The Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), an American corporation located in the United States. HCA performed all recruiting for the Riyadh hospital. In September 1983, Scott Nelson (plaintiff), a U.S. citizen, responded to a recruitment advertisement for a monitoring systems engineer at the hospital. He was offered and accepted the job, and began work in Saudi Arabia. A few months after beginning work, Nelson noticed safety defects in the hospital’s oxygen and nitrous oxide lines. He repeatedly informed hospital superiors, but was told to ignore the safety issues. On September 27, 1984, Nelson was summoned to the hospital’s security office where he was arrested and taken to prison. There, he was tortured and beaten. He was made to sign a statement in Arabic that he could not understand. Nelson’s wife, Vivian Nelson (plaintiff), received a phone call from a Saudi official saying she could arrange for her husband’s release by providing sexual favors. The Nelsons brought suit against Saudi Arabia in federal district court. The district court held it lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The court of appeals reversed, holding that Nelson’s recruitment and hiring were commercial activities of Saudi Arabia which were carried on in the United States. The court of appeals held that Nelson’s beating and torture were sufficiently related to these commercial activities to support his claim. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)
Concurrence (White, J.)
Dissent (Stevens, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 166,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.