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Court Denies Transfer of Venue in Rusesabagina v. GainJet Aviation Case

In the case of Paul Rusesabagina et al. v. GainJet Aviation S.A., the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas has denied a motion to transfer the venue to the District of Columbia. The case involves the alleged kidnapping of Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan humanitarian and activist, by the Rwandan government and its alleged co-conspirator, GainJet Aviation, a private jet charter operator based in Athens, Greece.

Rusesabagina, known for sheltering refugees during the Rwandan genocide and as a critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was allegedly kidnapped in August 2020. He was invited to speak at churches in Burundi and flew from San Antonio to Dubai, where he boarded a private jet chartered by GainJet. He was allegedly deceived into believing that he was flying to Burundi, but was instead flown to Kigali, Rwanda against his will. Upon landing, he was detained and allegedly tortured for three days.

Rusesabagina and his family filed this action in December 2020 against GainJet, alleging a conspiracy among the Rwandan government, a man named Constantin Niyomwungere, and GainJet to extradite, detain, and torture Rusesabagina. The plaintiffs asserted claims for civil conspiracy, fraud, false imprisonment, assault and battery, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, and violations of international law.

The plaintiffs moved to transfer the case to the District of Columbia, asserting that the court there was already familiar with the relevant factual and legal issues and had asserted personal jurisdiction over some of the co-conspirators involved in the kidnapping. However, the court in Texas disagreed, stating that it was not convinced that the District of Columbia would reach the same conclusion as to its personal jurisdiction over GainJet.

The court concluded that while much of the jurisdictional evidence suggests that GainJet was aware of or agreed to participate in the kidnapping of Rusesabagina, GainJet’s intent to kidnap a resident of the United States does not establish purposeful contacts with the United States as a whole. Therefore, the motion to transfer the case was denied (Pages 1-9).

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