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OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs - (01 Dec 2015)

US Supreme Court dismisses claim against Austrian train operator


The US Supreme Court dismissed a suit against an Austrian train operator brought by an American woman who suffered severe injuries after falling onto railway tracks in Austria while attempting to board a train. Carol Sachs claimed that OBB had sold her the Eurail pass in the United States, sufficing for the exception of ‘commercial activity’ under Section 1605 Title 28 United States Code, which otherwise provided jurisdictional immunity to foreign states. The Court rejected her claims on the basis that the action was “based upon” OBB’s conduct in Austria and could not be adjudicated in the United States. It relied on an earlier decision in Saudi Arabia et al v. Nelson wherein the Court had determined that “particular conduct on which the action is based…[elements] if proven would entitle plaintiff to relief”. In the instant case, the Ninth Circuit court had erred in applying the test to a single element, whereas Saudi Arabia v Nelson required identifying all elements of the action.


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