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Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale v. United States District Court

United States Supreme Court
482 U.S. 522 (1987)


Facts

Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale (SNIA) (plaintiff) was a French corporation being sued by American plaintiffs. After the plaintiffs sought discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), SNIA filed a motion for a protective order with the district court. SNIA claimed that the only way the plaintiffs could seek discovery was under the Hague Evidence Convention (the Convention). The Convention provided procedures for obtaining discovery from a foreign country. SNIA argued that the Convention’s procedures were mandatory and that, even if not mandatory, the plaintiffs were required first to use the procedures before resorting to discovery under the FRCP. The Court held that Convention merely sets out an optional set of procedures to get evidence from a foreign country. The Court declined to create a rule that would require American plaintiffs to follow the Convention’s procedures first before pursuing discovery under the FRCP. Therefore, the district court had jurisdiction to order SNIA to produce evidence located in France. SNIA’s motion for a protective order was denied.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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