Société Internationale Pour Participations Industrielles et Commerciales, S.A. v. Rogers

357 U.S. 197 (1958)

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Société Internationale Pour Participations Industrielles et Commerciales, S.A. v. Rogers

United States Supreme Court
357 U.S. 197 (1958)

Facts

The United States government (defendant) seized assets owned by I. G. Farbenindustrie (I. G. Farben), a German firm considered an enemy national under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Société Internationale Pour Participations Industrielles et Commerciales, S.A. (Société Internationale) (plaintiff) sued the government in federal court to recover the assets. The government contested Société Internationale’s claim of ownership of the assets and argued that Société Internationale had conspired with entities including Swiss banking firm H. Sturzenegger & Cie (Sturzenegger) to hide I. G. Farben’s assets. The government moved for and was granted an order directing Société Internationale to produce Sturzenegger’s banking records. Société Internationale moved to be excused from complying with the production order, arguing that disclosure of the records violated Swiss laws and could result in criminal prosecution of Société Internationale in Switzerland. A special master appointed by the district court found that Société Internationale acted in good faith and made diligent efforts to comply with the order to produce the Sturzenegger records, and that Swiss law prevented full disclosure of the records. Société Internationale sought waivers for disclosure from those involved with Sturzenegger who were protected by Swiss law. The district court adopted the findings of the special master but dismissed Société Internationale’s lawsuit. However, the district court and the appellate court both granted additional time for Société Internationale to comply with the order before the dismissal took effect. By the end of the extended discovery period, over 190,000 documents were released. However, the district court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, finding that full compliance with the discovery order was not achieved. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal. Société Internationale appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harlan, J.)

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