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Stemcor USA Inc. v. CIA Siderurgica Do Para Cosipar

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

June 25, 2019

STEMCOR USA INCORPORATED, Plaintiff
v.
CIA SIDERURGICA DO PARA COSIPAR, ET AL., Defendants DAEWOO INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
THYSSENKRUPP MANNEX GMBH, Intervenor Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
AMERICA METALS TRADING L.L.P., ET AL., Defendants

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

          Before HIGGINBOTHAM, GRAVES, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.

         ON PETITION FOR REHEARING

          James E. Graves, Jr., Circuit Judge.

         On second rehearing of this matter, we certified to the Louisiana Supreme Court the question of whether a suit seeking to compel arbitration is an "action for a money judgment" under Louisiana's non-resident attachment statute, La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 3542. See Stemcor USA Inc. v. Cia Siderurgica do Para Cosipar, 740 Fed.Appx. 70 (5th Cir. 2018). The Louisiana Supreme Court having now provided its answer, we conclude that Louisiana's nonresident attachment statute allows for attachment in aid of arbitration. Thus, we grant rehearing, withdraw our prior opinion, 895 F.3d 375 (5th Cir. 2018), and substitute the following. We also VACATE the judgment of the district court and REMAND.

         I

         This is a dispute between two creditors, each of which attached the same pig iron owned by America Metals Trading L.L.P. ("AMT"). Plaintiff-Appellant Daewoo International Corp. ("Daewoo") is a South Korean trading company. In May 2012, Daewoo entered into a series of contracts with AMT for the purchase of pig iron, to be delivered in New Orleans. The sale contracts contained arbitration clauses. Although Daewoo made payments under the contracts, AMT never shipped the pig iron. Thyssenkrupp Mannex GMBH ("TKM") is a German company. Between June 2010 and February 2011, TKM entered into six contracts to purchase pig iron from AMT. AMT never delivered. In response to the breach of contract, TKM and AMT negotiated a settlement, which required AMT to make quarterly payments to TKM. AMT did not pay.

         Daewoo sued AMT in the Eastern District of Louisiana, seeking an order compelling arbitration and an attachment of the pig iron on board a ship then-anchored in New Orleans. Daewoo invoked both maritime attachment and the Louisiana non-resident attachment statute, which allows attachments in aid of any "action for a money judgment." La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 3542. Citing both types of attachment, the district court granted Daewoo its attachment. Intervenor-Appellee TKM later attached the same pig iron in Louisiana state court and intervened in Daewoo's federal action arguing that maritime jurisdiction was improper and Louisiana's non-resident attachment statute was inapplicable.

         The district court agreed with TKM and vacated Daewoo's attachment. See Stemcor USA, Inc. v. Am. Metals Trading, LLP, 199 F.Supp.3d 1102 (E.D. La. 2016). Specifically, the district court found that because Daewoo's underlying suit sought to compel arbitration, it was not an "action for a money judgment." Thus, the district court found that Daewoo could not receive a nonresident attachment writ. After Daewoo's writ was dissolved, TKM's state court attachment became first in time and the district court transferred proceeds from the parties' agreed sale of the pig iron to state court. Daewoo appealed the district court's conclusion that its Louisiana non-resident attachment writ was invalid. This court heard oral arguments, rendered a decision and reconsidered this matter on rehearing. See Stemcor USA Inc. v. Cia Siderurgica do Para Cosipar, 870 F.3d 370 (5th Cir. 2017), opinion withdrawn and superseded on reh'g, 895 F.3d 375 (5th Cir. 2018).

         On second rehearing of this matter, we certified to the Louisiana Supreme Court the question of whether a suit seeking to compel arbitration is an "action for a money judgment" under Louisiana's non-resident attachment statute, La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 3542. See Stemcor USA Inc. v. Cia Siderurgica do Para Cosipar, 740 Fed.Appx. 70 (5th Cir. 2018). The Louisiana Supreme Court has now answered. See Stemcor USA Inc. v. Cia Siderurgica do Para Cosipar, __ So.3d __, 2018-CQ-1728, 2019 WL 2041826, (La. May 8, 2019).

         II

         The district court found federal subject matter jurisdiction under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the "Convention"). We agree.

         For a federal court to have jurisdiction under the Convention, two requirements must be met: (1) there must be an arbitration agreement or award that falls under the Convention, and (2) the dispute must relate to that arbitration agreement. These requirements flow from the text of two sections of the Convention. The explicit jurisdictional provision is Section 203, which gives federal courts jurisdiction over all "action[s] or proceeding[s] falling under the Convention." 9 U.S.C. § 203. "An arbitration agreement or arbitral award arising out of a legal relationship, whether contractual or not, which is considered as commercial, including a transaction, contract, or agreement described in section 2 of this title, falls under the Convention." 9 U.S.C. § 202. Accordingly, the first step for determining jurisdiction is deciding whether the "arbitration agreement or award . . . falls under the Convention." Id.

         The next step, derived from Section 203, is to ask whether the "action or proceeding"-as opposed to the arbitration agreement or award-falls under the Convention. The Convention's removal statute offers guidance on what "falling under" means because "[g]enerally, the removal jurisdiction of the federal district courts extends to cases over which they have original jurisdiction." Francisco v. Stolt Achievement MT, 293 F.3d 270, 272 (5th Cir. 2002). Section 205 of the Convention allows for removal whenever "the subject matter of an action or proceeding pending in a State court relates to an arbitration agreement or award falling under the Convention." 9 U.S.C. § 205. We have read "relates to" to mean "has some connection, has some relation, [or] has some reference" to. Acosta v. Master Maint. & Constr. Inc., 452 F.3d 373, 378-79 (5th Cir. 2006). And reading "falling under" to mean "relates to" makes sense grammatically. "Fall" means "to come within the limits, scope, or jurisdiction of something." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 418 (10th ed. 2002). Accordingly, the second step of the jurisdictional question is asking whether the "action or proceeding" "relates to" a covered arbitration ...


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