Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 18,800+ case briefs...

Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain

United States Supreme Court
542 U.S. 692 (2004)



Alvarez-Machain (Alvarez) (plaintiff) alleged he was wrongfully captured and arbitrarily detained in Mexico by Sosa (defendant), a bounty hunter operating as a United States agent. The operation to capture and detain Alvarez was planned and directed by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in the United States. After Alvarez was captured in Mexico, he was brought to the United States to be tried for the murder of a DEA agent. After Alvarez's acquittal, he sued the United States for false arrest under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which waives the government's sovereign immunity in some circumstances and allows the government to be sued in a tort action. Alvarez also brought suit against Sosa under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which gives federal district courts original jurisdiction over an alien's civil action for a tort committed in violation of the law of nations or a U.S. treaty. Alvarez alleged that Sosa violated the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Declaration), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Covenant), and customary international law by arbitrarily detaining him. The district court awarded Alvarez summary judgment and damages on his ATS claim against Sosa and dismissed Alvarez's FTCA claim against the United States. The appellate court affirmed the judgment on Alvarez's ATS claim and reversed the dismissal of Alvarez's FTCA claim. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

What to do next…

  1. 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 499,000 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.

  2. 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 499,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 18,800 briefs, keyed to 985 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.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial