April 6, 2020

Fishkin Lucks Secures Dismissal of Putative Nationwide Class Action

Fishkin Lucks secured today a complete dismissal of a putative nationwide class action brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the Firm’s client, Western Union, and various co-defendants, including other money transfer companies, a telecommunications company, the government of Haiti, and former and current Haitian government officials.  The class action complaint, which sought $1.5 billion in damages, contained federal antitrust and various state law claims arising from fees that were imposed on billions of dollars of money transfers and phone calls made from Haiti.  The plaintiffs contended that the fees, which the Haitian government implemented in 2011 for the stated goal of raising money for public education, were actually part of a sweeping antitrust conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by“principal architect and ringleader,” Michel Joseph Martelly, then-President-elect of Haiti.  Plaintiffs alleged that the named defendants, including Western Union, conspired with Martelly and the Haitian government to impose the fees, which were enacted through various circulars and government documents that the plaintiffs claimed “ran afoul of the laws of Haiti.”  Along with several other defendants, the Firm moved to dismiss plaintiffs’ class action complaint based on the “act of state” doctrine, which prohibits a U.S. court from adjudicating claims that necessarily require a judgment into the propriety of official actions of a foreign government and its leaders, and under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.  In a detailed opinion, the Court (Hall, J.) adopted the Firm’s arguments in full and dismissed the complaint with prejudice, finding that the act of state and forum non conveniens doctrines each independently warranted dismissal. A Law360 article reporting on the decision can be found here.