Case of the Day: GMI v. Asociación del Fútbol Argentino

The case of the day is GMI, LLC v. Asociación del Fútbol Argentino (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016). GMI had an agreement with the AFA, the sport’s governing body in Argentina, for the exclusive right to market and sell AFA’s football marketing rights for a twenty-year term. The agreement provided that AFA would not make any payments to GMI, but rather, that AFA would reach an agreement with the prospective buyer for GMI’s compensation. GMI arranged for the Republic of Argentina to purchase the rights. But according to GMI, Argentina and AFA then muscled GMI out of the deal, completing the purchase and sale but not paying GMI anything. GMI sued AFA in the Florida court for breach of contract. AFA moved to dismiss on the grounds that the Republic of Argentina was an indispensable party that could not be joined. The court granted the motion, and GMI appealed.

On appeal, the court affirmed. Since the payments were to come from Argentina, the court reasoned that any judgment against AFA would implicate the interests of Argentina. Under Republic of Philippines v. Pimental, 553 U.S. 851 (2008), the potential for injury to a sovereign’s interest when the sovereign has a colorable claim of immunity is sufficient to require dismissal. In addition, GMI had alleged a partnership between Argentina and AFA, and under Florida law partners are indispensable parties.

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