RESPONDENT: Diana Lucia Montoya Alvarez
LOCATION: The Hon. Charles L. Brieant, Jr. Federal Building and United States Courthouse
DOCKET NO.: 12-820
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
CITATION: 572 US (2014)
GRANTED: Jun 24, 2013
ARGUED: Dec 11, 2013
DECIDED: Mar 05, 2014
Ann O'Connell - Assistant to the Solicitor General , Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae supporting the respondent
Lauren A. Moskowitz - for the respondent
Shawn P. Regan - on behalf of the petitioner
Facts of the case
Diana Alvarez and Manuel Lozano, two native Columbians, met while living in London and had a daughter together. At trial Alvarez testified that, from 2005 until 2008, Lozano was abusing and threatening to rape her. Lozano denied these allegations and claimed that, although they had normal couple problems, they were generally "very happy together." In November 2008, Alvarez took the child and, after a stay at a women's shelter, moved to her sister's home in New York. A psychiatrist diagnosed the child with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by her experience living in the United Kingdom, moving to America, staying at a women's shelter, and knowing that her mother had been threatened. However, six months later, the child's condition drastically improved.
After Lozano exhausted all remedies within the UK to attempt to locate the child, on November 10, 2010, he filed a Petition for Return of Child under Article 2 of the Hague Convention and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act in U.S. district court. The district court held that the child was now settled in New York and that removing the child would cause undue harm. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.
Does the one-year statute of limitations on a petition to return an abducted child under the Hague Convention remain in effect when one parent has deliberately concealed the child's whereabouts from the other parent?
Media for Lozano v. Montoya AlvarezAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 11, 2013 in Lozano v. Montoya Alvarez
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 05, 2014 in Lozano v. Montoya Alvarez
Justice Thomas has our opinion in case 12-820, Lozano versus Alvarez.
This case comes through us on the writ of certiorari in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and it's not complicated.
This matter concerns a young girl who lived in London with her mother, who's the respondent in this case, and her father, who's the petitioner.
In November 2008, the mother and child left the father and moved to women's shelter.
Then in July 2009, they left the United Kingdom all together and settled in New York City.
The father did not locate the mother and child until November 2010, more than 16 months after they had left the United Kingdom.
The father filed a petition in federal court for the child's return involving -- invoking the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of International child abduction.
Under that treaty, if a parent files petition within a year of a child's removal, the court must order the return of the child forthwith.
But when the petition is filed more than one year after removal, return is not required if the child is settled in the new environment.
The father argued that the one year period should be equitably told because the mother has concealed the child's location.
The District Court declined to return the child.
It held that equitable tolling does not apply to the one year period and found that the child was settled in New York.
The Second Circuit affirmed in an opinion filed with the clerk today, we also affirm the judgment - reaffirm the judgment of the Second Court - Second Circuit.
In particular, we hold that equitable tolling does not apply to the one year period in the Hague Convention.
Although there is a presumption that equitable tolling applies to federal statutes of limitation, there is no general presumption that equitable tolling applies to treaties.
Even if there were such a presumption, it would not apply here because the one year period in the Hague Convention is not a statute of limitation and without the benefit of a presumption of equitable tolling, there is no reason to interpret the convention to extend the one year period in cases involving concealment.
For these reasons and others set forth, in our opinion, we affirmed the judgment of the Second Circuit.
The opinion of the Court is unanimous.
Justice Alito has filed a concurring opinion, which Justices Breyer and Sotomayor have joined.