Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Thomas G. Corcoran, Jr. specializes in international civil litigation and appeals in U.S. federal courts. In particular, Mr. Corcoran has very extensive experience in the defense of foreign states when sued in U.S. courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”). Prior to practicing law, Mr. Corcoran served as an officer in the United States Navy, including duty with a U.S. Marine Corps Company in Vietnam. Prior to entering private practice, he served in the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Representative Cases
  • Weiming Chen v. Ying-Jeou Ma, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118668. Obtained dismissal of case against the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan), on the grounds of presidential immunity although the Republic of China is not diplomatically recognized by the United States. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the lower court's orders on procedural grounds. (2d Circuit Case 13-3751, Document 105)
  • Abelesz v. OTP Bank, 692 F.3d 638 (7th Cir. 2012). Alien Tort Suit against Hungarian Central Bank and three private banks including OTP Bank for 75 billion dollars in damages arising out of alleged wrongful retention of Jewish assets looted during Hungarian Holocaust. Won for OTP Bank for lack of personal jurisdiction on petition for mandamus
  • Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 637 F. 3rd 783 (7th Cir. 2011). FSIA attachment proceeding against Iran for Persepolis artifacts under study at the University of Chicago. An important case on the issue of the scope of interlocutory appeals and what foreign state assets can be attached after judgment against foreign state. Won by Iran
  • Sampson v. Federal Republic of Germany, 250 F.3d 1145 (7th Cir. 2001). Affirming district court’s grant of Germany’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction against argument raised by 7th Circuit that jus cogens violation by Germany constitutes waiver of sovereign immunity under the FSIA. This is the leading case for the proposition that a violation of jus cogens does not waive sovereign immunity under the FSIA
  • Federal Republic of Germany et al. v. United States et al., 526 U.S. 111 (1999). Original action in Supreme Court to stay execution of Walter LaGrand, a German national, by the State of Arizona after a request for stay by the International Court of Justice. Mr. Corcoran was among counsel who prepared the brief on the day LaGrand was scheduled to be executed. The brief was filed about 3 pm, the United States responded about 5 pm, the Supreme Court denied relief about 7 pm, and LaGrand was executed about 9 pm.
  • Princz v. Federal Republic of Germany, 26 F.3d 1166 (D.C.Cir. 1994). Suit by survivor of World War II persecution who did not apply timely, that is, by 1969, for compensation under Germany’s compensation system. Held, assuming that the FSIA was retroactive to acts occurring in 1942-1945, no exception to the general grant of sovereign immunity in the FSIA applied in the case. If the FSIA were not retroactive, then there was no federal subject matter jurisdiction over Princz’s claims, which sounded in tort and quasi contract.
  • Millen Industries, Inc. v. Coordination Council for North American Affairs, 855 F.2d 879 (D.C. Cir. 1988). The Coordination Council was then the name of Taiwan’s unofficial embassy in the United States. This is the leading case for the proposition that Taiwan is entitled to treatment as if a foreign state under U.S. law and under the FSIA, despite derecognition of its government as the government of China.
  • Lary v. The Republic of China, 800 F.2d 265 (11th Cir. 1986). A suit against the ROC for failure to pay on bonds issued by China in 1911 was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the FSIA, passed in 1976, was not retroactive to 1911. The principle upon which the ROC (Taiwan) won this case, that the FSIA was not retroactive, was rejected 18 years later by the Supreme Court in Austria v. Altmann, 541 U.S. 677 (2004).
  • A name search on LEXIS-NEXIS will show that  “Thomas G. Corcoran, Jr” has been counsel on more than a hundred decided cases, including numerous FSIA cases not mentioned above.
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