What’s The Verdict: Will FIFA officials win their challenge to dismiss conspiracy/ criminal charges and the 2nd civil case based on lack of jurisdiction?
The Department of Justice has brought a criminal indictment against current and former executives of FIFA for bribery, money laundering, wire fraud, and more. While there is a criminal case based on the indictments being handled by a federal judge located in New York, there is a civil lawsuit taking place in California. A California federal judge Phyllis Hamilton is being asked to take a closer look at this action in response to a very large, international body of soccer-fans are quite angry with the DOJ claiming both harassment and seeking sanctions. U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton will be handling the civil case regarding claims that FIFA has been negligent in the monitoring and treatment of head injuries.
The civil suit was filed in August 2014 after a bundle of concussion-related litigation against other professional sports leagues. (I can assume this likely included American football) The complaint at hand alleges that “FIFA presides over this epidemic” of head injuries “and is one of its primary causes. By this lawsuit, Plaintiff seek to require FIFA to become part of the cure.”
From the get-go, the class action suit would inevitably face a jurisdictional challenge and in response, FIFA, of course, moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. In other words, it would be very difficult to convince a judge that Switzerland based company was susceptible to a tort lawsuit inside a California courtroom. Then, in the beginning of May, Judge Hamilton suggested that FIFA would released based on lack of jurisdiction.
So, the civil suit was filed in August 2014 then just a couple weeks ago, FIFA officials were arrested in Switzerland and charged for racketeering conspiracies, amongst other criminal acts. Controversy erupted. Many debated whether or not the Justice Department even had the authority to bring action against foreign nationals. The U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch made a statement that, “In many instances, defendants and their co-conspirators planned aspects of their scheme during meetings held here in the United States; they used the banking and wire facilities of the United States to distribute the bribe payments; and the planned to profit from their scheme in late part through promotional efforts directed at the growing U.S. market for soccer.” The key here is that some ‘conspiracy’ occurred on American soil, which does give the federal court system jurisdiction.
All in all, it appears that the federal court has jurisdiction of the criminal case, but it may be the case that the civil lawsuit is not subject to general jurisdiction. In addition, FIFA’s attorneys are making it crystal clear that there is no connection between the allegations of corruptions and the lawsuit addressing head injuries. With that, FIFA attorneys are arguing that the plaintiff’s claims are purely harassment and completely unrelated. This is what I mentioned first about a large, international body that is very upset.
What’s going to happen next? It may be the case that the foreign national challenge the jurisdiction for the criminal indictment, but in the meantime the CA judge will determine whether the court is authorized to preside over the civil lawsuit. Do you think the case will stay within jurisdiction? Stay tuned for updates on What’s The Verdict!