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Important Ruling for Walters v. People’s Republic of China

Nov6

A recent ruling in the Walters v. People’s Republic of China case has implications for the country of China in a case that has been ongoing since 1993. This ruling indicates the power of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in such that it can order the People’s Republic of China to comply with its orders or face penalties.

Waters v. People’s Republic of China

In this case, Debbie Walters filed a lawsuit for product liability, breach of warranty, and negligence regarding a semi-automatic rifle made in China that killed her son when the weapon got jammed. The People’s Republic of China was named in that court case, and was ordered to pay $10 million. Ever since, Walters has fought to receive the money from the People’s Republic of China that that court order decreed.

In October 2009, three banks named in the lawsuit were served with notices and subpoenas requiring they release documents that detail what property in their possession the People’s Republic of China has interest in and forbid the sale of that property. The banks refused, stating that they had the right not to disclose that information under the Federal Sovereign Immunities Act. The court ruled that property held by these banks outside the United States were not in the scope of FSIA and would not be immune. After this ruling, the People’s Republic of China sent a letter to the court stating that they were not to be held liable to the financial court ruling of another sovereign state and were concerned about the attempt to extract the country’s money.

A court ruling in October 2014 by Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson held that the People’s Republic of China could be subject to the contempt power of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia if they do not comply with a court order. As a result, the People’s Republic of China has an opportunity to comply with the court and provide the necessary documents or they will be fined $246,000 per day.

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