W.S. Kirkpatrick & Co., Inc. v. Environmental Tectonics Corp., Int'l
United States Supreme Court
493 U.S. 400 (1990)
Harry Carpenter (defendant), as the chairman and chief executive officer of W.S. Kirkpatrick & Co., Inc. (Kirkpatrick) (defendant), bid on a project in Nigeria. Carpenter arranged with a third party to provide bribes to Nigerian officials in order to secure the contract. The bribes were accepted, and the contract was awarded to Kirkpatrick. The making and receipt of such bribes violated Nigerian law. One of the other project bidders, Environmental Tectonics Corp., International (Environmental Tectonics) (plaintiff), learned of the bribes and informed the United States government. The United States filed charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 against Carpenter and Kirkpatrick. Both pleaded guilty. Environmental Tectonics then filed a civil suit against Carpenter, Kirkpatrick, and others (defendants) in a federal court in New Jersey. Defendants moved to dismiss the action pursuant to application of the act-of-state doctrine. The legal advisor to the U.S. Department of State (State Department) submitted a letter to the court asserting the State Department’s opinion that a judicial investigation into the motivation of the foreign sovereign’s act in this case would not cause a degree of embarrassment and interference equivalent to a determination that the foreign sovereign’s act was invalid. Notwithstanding that opinion, the district court dismissed the action. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed, concluding that the State Department’s opinion was convincing and entitled to considerable respect. Defendants petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, 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.