Case of the Day: Pine Top Receivables v. Banco de Seguros del Estado

The case of the day is Pine Top Receivables of Illinois, LLC v. Banco de Seguros del Estado (7th Cir. 2014). Pine Top Insurance Company claimed it was owed more than $2 million by Banco de Seguros del Estado, an instrumentality of the Uruguayan government, under reinsurance contracts. When Pine Top failed, its claims against the bank ultimately ended up in the hands of Pine Top Receivables, which sued to collect. Under Illinois law, because the bank was not authorized to carry out an insurance business in the state, it had to post security when it served its answer to the complaint. It failed to do so, and Pine Top sought to strike the answer. The bank opposed the motion to strike on the ground that the security requirement was an attachment forbidden by the FSIA.

The FSIA does not expressly define “attachment.” The court reasoned that if, as Pine Top argued, only an attachment whose purpose was to allow the court to obtain jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign were within the statutory definition, then 28 U.S.C. § 1610, which provides an exception to the rule against attachments for attachments whose purpose is to secure satisfaction of a judgment rather than to obtain jurisdiction, would be meaningless. This is pretty clearly correct, and I think it makes better sense of the word “attachment”, which in US procedure is often used in an inexact sense to describe various forms of prejudgment remedies rather than only to pick out the historical writ of attachment.

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