Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Three federal circuit courts of appeals recently have held that United States citizens are not entitled to a jury trial in an action against a commercial corporation owned by a foreign government. The Second, Third, and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeals agree that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), the sole basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction, provides only for nonjury trials in legal actions against commercial corporations owned by a foreign government. These courts also agree that this statutory denial of a jury trial does not abridge a citizen's seventh amendment right. These decisions are important because of the "wide-spread and increasing practice on the part of governments of engaging in commercial activities." This Recent Development examines the legal backgrounds of sovereign immunity and the right to a jury trial, the recent decisions, and the analysis adopted by each of the circuit courts.