News 26 Sep. 2007

Major Victory for Firm's Clients, Access Industries Inc. and its Principal, Len Blavatnik

Curtis achieved a major victory for its clients, Access Industries Inc. and its principal, Len Blavatnik, on September 24, 2007, when Judge Laura T. Swain of the Southern District of New York dismissed civil racketeering claims against them and thirty-three other defendants.

Plaintiff, a shareholder in a Russian oil company, asserted multiple RICO and Russian law claims against defendants, who included BP plc, its former chairman, Lord John Browne, and TNK-BP, Russia's fourth largest oil company. Plaintiff contended that defendants engaged in a scheme to take over the Russian oil industry through a series of wrongful acts, allegedly committed mostly throughout Russia.

Defendants jointly moved to dismiss the claims on multiple bases, including the U.S. district court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's claims.

In a twenty-page opinion, Judge Swain granted defendants' motion on subject matter jurisdiction grounds without reaching defendants' other arguments. The court explained that RICO's extraterritorial application was limited and would only be applied when the complaint satisfied one of the tests for extraterritorial application. The court then found that the amended complaint failed to satisfy either of the so-called 'conduct' or 'effects' tests and that the court thus lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The court also denied plaintiff leave to file another amended complaint, finding that further amendment would be futile.

This is the second time that Curtis and co-defense counsel have successfully achieved a dismissal of this suit by the district court. Judge Swain previously dismissed it on forum non conveniens grounds, but that decision was reversed by the Second Circuit. Plaintiff then filed the amended complaint that was dismissed by Judge Swain on September 24, 2007.

The Curtis attorneys who worked on this matter were partner Turner P. Smith and associates Myles K. Bartley and Joshua L. Blosveren.