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In re Request for Judicial Assistance from Municipal Court in Brno

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 8, 2019

In re Request for Judicial Assistance from the Municipal Court in Brno, Czech Republic in the Matter of Rolf-Peter Hermann Reichmann

          Katerina Ossenova, Trial Attorney, United States Department of Justice Office of Foreign Litigation, (for Petitioner).

          ORDER

          Steven E. Rau United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court, United States Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau, on a request for international judicial assistance from the Municipal Court in Brno, Czech Republic related to the case captioned Matter of Rolf-Peter Hermann Reichmann, Foreign Reference Number 58 D 1275/201. This request was brought before this Court on the application of the United States pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782. (ECF No. 1). For the reasons set forth below, the application is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Municipal Court in Brno, Czech Republic is adjudicating the estate of Rolf-Peter Hermann Reichmann. Reichmann, who last resided in Brno, died on July 23, 2017. (Decl. of Katerina Ossenova, Ex. A at 2, ECF No. 3). The estate proceedings are uncontested. (Ossenova Decl., Ex. A at 3). The Czech Court is seeking to make a full accounting of Reichmann's property, including an account opened at U.S. Bank though a branch in Carson City, Nevada. (Ossenova Decl., Ex. A at 3). The United States, through the United States Department of Justice, is assisting the Czech Court in obtaining this information and seeks authority from this Court to subpoena U.S. Bank for evidence related to Reichmann's accounts. (Ossenova Decl., Ex. B).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1782,

[t]he district court of the district in which a person resides or is found may order him to give his testimony or statement or to produce a document or other thing for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal, including criminal investigations conducted before formal accusation. The order may be made pursuant to a . . . request made[] by a foreign or international tribunal . . . .

28 U.S.C. § 1782(a); see also In re Hallmark Capital Corp., 534 F.Supp.2d 951, 953-54 (D. Minn. 2007) (an order is “appropriate where the Applicant establishes that (1) the discovery is sought from a person found in this district, (2) the discovery is for use in a proceeding before a foreign tribunal, and (3) the applicant is an ‘interested person' before such foreign tribunal”).

         Here, based on the record before the Court, U.S. Bank N.A. is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is within the District of Minnesota. The petitioner, the United States on behalf of the Czech Court, seeks to use the discovery sought for proceedings in the Czech Republic to administer a decedent's estate. The petition is being made on behalf of the foreign tribunal administering Reichmann's estate. Accordingly, petitioner has satisfied the requirements set forth in § 1782(a).

         “[A] district court is not required to grant a § 1782(a) discovery application simply because it has the authority to do so.” Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 542 U.S. 241, 264 (2004). The Supreme Court has enumerated four “factors that bear consideration in ruling on a § 1782(a) request.” Id. These factors are: (1) whether the person from whom discovery sought is a participant in the foreign proceeding; (2) the nature of the foreign tribunal, the character of the foreign proceedings, and the receptivity of the foreign tribunal to federal judicial assistance; (3) whether the request conceals an attempt to circumvent foreign proof-gathering restrictions or other policies; and (4) whether the request is unduly intrusive or burdensome. Id. at 264-65; accord In re Hallmark Capital Corp., 534 F.Supp.2d at 954 (once the statutory requirements are met, “a court has the discretion to grant an application under Section 1782 if doing so would (1) provide an efficient means of assistance to participants in international litigation, and (2) encourage foreign countries to provide reciprocal means of assistance to United States courts and litigants.”) (citing In re Application of Euromepa, 51 F.3d 1095, 1097, 1101 (2d Cir. 1995)).

         Based on the factors outlined in Intel Corp., the Court concludes that the application should be granted. U.S. Bank is not a participant to the foreign proceedings. Rather, it is an entity outside the jurisdiction of the Czech Court and likely has evidence related to Reichmann's financial holdings in the United States. There is no indication the Czech Court would reject evidence obtained on its behalf by the United States; indeed, the Czech Court has requested this information in order to conduct a full administration of Reichmann's estate. There is no indication that the United States or the Czech Court are attempting to circumvent foreign proof-gathering procedures. And finally, the discovery sought is narrowly tailored to Reichmann's financial holdings at U.S. Bank. Accordingly, the Court finds that the factors espoused in Intel Corp. all weigh in favor of granting the application.

         III. CONCLUSION

         Based on the foregoing, and all the files, records, and proceedings ...


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