Sinochem International Co. Ltd. v. Malaysia International Shipping Corp.

549 U.S. 422, 127 S.Ct. 1184, 167 L.Ed.2d 15, 2007 AMC 609 (2007)

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Sinochem International Co. Ltd. v. Malaysia International Shipping Corp.

United States Supreme Court
549 U.S. 422, 127 S.Ct. 1184, 167 L.Ed.2d 15, 2007 AMC 609 (2007)

Facts

Malaysia International Shipping Corp. (Malaysia) (plaintiff) owned a ship that transported steel from Philadelphia to China for delivery to Sinochem International Co. Ltd. (Sinochem) (defendant). Upon the arrival of the vessel in China, Sinochem claimed that Malaysia had defrauded Sinochem in the bill of lading. Sinochem brought an action against Malaysia in Chinese court, and the vessel was arrested. Malaysia objected to the court’s jurisdiction, but the objection was rejected, and jurisdiction was affirmed on appeal to a higher Chinese court. Malaysia then brought claims against Sinochem in the United States in federal district court, alleging that the arrest of the vessel was unlawful and seeking damages. Sinochem moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal and subject-matter jurisdiction and for forum non conveniens. The district court held that it had subject-matter jurisdiction but that additional discovery would be required to answer the personal-jurisdiction issue. The court determined, however, that such discovery was unnecessary because the case should be dismissed for forum non conveniens. Malaysia appealed the dismissal. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the district court was unable to dismiss the claim for forum non conveniens unless and until it had determined that it in fact had both subject-matter and personal jurisdiction. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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