Veljkovic v. Carlson Hotels, Inc., No. 16-3723 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The “Old Mill” in Belgrade, Serbia, was confiscated, allegedly from plaintiffs' ancestors, in 1945, without compensation, and later sold to private developers. Prigan now holds title and, with Carlson, renovated the Old Mill. The property is now a four‐star Radisson Blu Hotel complex. Carlson is the licensor of the Radisson Blu brand and participates in the hotel’s management. Ten years before the hotel's construction, plaintiffs began trying to recover their rights over the Old Mill. In 2009 a Serbian court annulled the declaration that plaintiffs’ family were enemies of the state. They sued Carlson, alleging trespass, conversion, conspiracy, unjust enrichment, constructive trust, and violation of the Minnesota Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Carlson agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the Serbian Restitution Agency, which was empowered by Serbia's 2011 “Law on Property Restitution and Compensation” to determine rights in the property, including improvements. The judge dismissed the suit on the ground of forum non conveniens. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the plaintiffs produced no documentary evidence that they have inherited the land and that the dispute is appropriate for the Serbian Agency . Although one plaintiff is an American citizen and a resident of Illinois, the other is a citizen of Canada but a resident of Paris; no aspect of the dispute has any relation to Illinois.