Philipp v. Federal Republic of Germany, No. 17-7064 (D.C. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Heirs of several Jewish art dealers doing business in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1930s sought to recover a valuable art collection (Welfenschatz) allegedly taken by the Nazis. The DC Circuit largely affirmed the district court's denial of Germany's motion to dismiss, holding that Germany failed to carry its burden of demonstrating that the allegations did not bring the case within the expropriation exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) as defined and applied in Simon v. Republic of Hungary, 812 F.3d 127 (D.C. Cir. 2016). On remand, the district court must grant the motion to dismiss with respect to the Federal Republic of Germany—but not the SPK, an instrumentality for which the commercial-nexus requirement can be satisfied without the presence of the Welfenschatz in the United States. The court rejected Germany's argument that the heirs must exhaust their remedies against Germany in its courts before pressing a claim against it elsewhere. Finally, the court rejected Germany's argument that the heirs' state law causes of action conflict with, and thus were preempted by, United States foreign policy.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on June 18, 2019.