Daou v. BLC Bank, S.A.L., No. 21-1085 (2d Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs appealed a district court judgment dismissing their action against Defendants-Appellees BLC Bank, S.A.L. (“BLC”), Credit Libanais, S.A.L. (“CL”), AlMawarid Bank, S.A.L. (“AM”), and Banque du Liban (“BDL”) for want of subject-matter jurisdiction, for want of personal jurisdiction, and for forum non conveniens based on binding forum selection clauses in agreements Plaintiffs entered into with AM and BLC. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants- (together, “the Banks”) engaged in a scheme to cheat them out of millions of U.S. dollars (“USD”) by inducing them to deposit those dollars in Lebanese bank accounts with the promise that they would be able to withdraw that money in the United States, only to renege on that promise and keep the money trapped in Lebanon. The district court dismissed the claims against AM and BLC because the Daous’ agreements with those banks included valid, enforceable forum selection clauses specifying Beirut as the proper forum; those against CL because it lacked personal jurisdiction over that bank, and those against BDL because that bank is an agency or instrumentality of the Lebanese state and no exception applied under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”).
The Second Circuit held that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over AM, BLC, and CL (together, “the Commercial Banks”) under the relevant provision of New York’s long-arm statute, N.Y. C.P.L.R. Section 302(a)(1), because there was insufficient connection between Plaintiffs’ claims against the Commercial Banks and those banks’ business transactions in New York. The court further held that BDL, an agency or instrumentality of a foreign sovereign is entitled to sovereign immunity.