Thu, Feb. 08, 2007

U.S. Complaint to be Served

CK - Washington.   On January 24, 2007, the federal supreme court for constitutional matters, Bundesverfassungsgericht, in Karlsruhe decided that the service of process of an American complaint would not raise constitutional issues despite an $11 million claim of damages for wrongful termination.

By way of an order, the court refused to consider the matter but outlined its rationale quite helpfully. First, it determined that the amount of the damages is not so outrageous that service under the Hague Convention would trigger issues under the German constitution, Grundgesetz. Further, the resulting submission of the German defendant company to the American discovery process does not constitute a blatant violation of due process. Finally, the American rule of costs is a factor a defendant must accept when it decides to do business within the United States, just as it must then accept decisions of foreign courts.

On February 6, 2007, the court published its press release 14/2007 in the matter 2 BvR 1133/04 which links to the order. The ruling confirms important aspects of the court's Juli 25, 2003 decision, BVerfGE 108, 238, which opened the door to constitutional review in matters involving extreme demands for damages, akin to the stance adopted a few months earlier by the Supreme Court of the United States for awards of excessive punitive damages.

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