Vera v. Republic of Cuba, No. 16-1227 (2d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Vera sued the Republic of Cuba for the extrajudicial killing of his father in 1976. In 2008, Vera obtained a default judgment against Cuba in Florida state court, relying on the “terrorism exception” to sovereign immunity, 28 U.S.C. 1605A(a)(1). Vera then secured a default judgment against Cuba in a U.S. District Court in New York, which granted full faith and credit to the Florida judgment. Vera served information subpoenas on the New York branches of various foreign banks, including BBVA, which refused to comply with the subpoena’s request for information regarding Cuban assets located outside the U.S. BBVA moved to quash the subpoena, contending that Vera’s judgment was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1602. The Second Circuit reversed in favor of BBVA. The district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Vera’s action against Cuba because Cuba was not designated a state sponsor of terrorism at the time Vera’s father was killed. Vera failed to establish that Cuba was designated a state sponsor of terrorism as a result of his father’s death. The FSIA’s terrorism exception to sovereign immunity—the only potential basis for subject matter jurisdiction— did not apply. Cuba was immune from Vera’s action.