Citizens or subjects of any foreign country that allows citizens of the United States to sue their government in its courts may sue the United States in the United States Court of Federal Claims if the subject matter of the litigation is otherwise within the jurisdiction of such court.
In addition, foreign governments that are parties to international agreements intended to provide a mechanism for resolving disputes between states and individuals may seek relief from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ was established by the Treaty on the Establishment of the ICC (TEUCOURT), which entered into force with respect to the United States on March 23, 1970. The treaty provides that it "shall be open to all countries that are members of the United Nations" and that disputes shall be resolved by arbitration before three judges who are not associated with any particular country. Countries that are not parties to the TEUCOURT may still enter into bilateral treaties with each other that allow them to resolve disputes through arbitration before private arbitrators. Such treaties are not considered binding under international law unless they have been accepted by the ICJ as required for the TEUCOURT to apply.
All foreign civil cases involving Americans and pending in American courts must be authorized by the State Department before they can proceed. The purpose of this policy is to protect Americans from being burdened with frivolous lawsuits filed by foreigners. However, this restriction does not apply to cases arising out of acts of terrorism against Americans.
While there, they can be sued in the same way as American citizens—anyone physically present in the United States, with the exception of people with diplomatic immunity, is "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, which means they can be served with American court process and are bound by American court orders and judgments.
In addition, the U.S. government can seize funds from Canadians if such funds are deposited in American banks. The Canadian government can avoid this problem by depositing the money into a foreign account but that doesn't help the Canadian who needs the money immediately. Also, some countries will not let their citizens be subject to the jurisdiction of another country's courts - usually because it isn't safe or convenient for the country concerned. For example, a Canadian citizen who has lived in Mexico for several years but owns property in Canada may not be able to appear before Mexican courts.
As well, Americans can file lawsuits against Canadians. This happens most often where one person suffers injury due to another's actions. For example, if a Canadian tourist is injured while visiting Florida and files a lawsuit against the owner of the hotel at which she was staying, an American court would have jurisdiction over the case. The defendant would then choose to accept responsibility for the judgment by paying it.
Another situation in which an American might file suit against a Canadian is where Canadian laws violate American constitutional rights.
You can always sue a foreign individual in the United States, but whether you can enforce the judgment depends on whether you can identify assets in the United States or whether the foreign nation recognizes the US decision. That foreign individual has the right to challenge whether a US court has jurisdiction over them.
In general, someone who is not a citizen of the United States cannot be sued in a U.S. court. There are exceptions for citizens and residents of other countries who enter into written agreements with the United States government allowing them to be sued here. Otherwise, they would be entitled to protection from lawsuits in America.
Foreign governments can also sue their citizens in American courts if the plaintiffs are willing to accept money as payment instead of filing suits themselves. In exchange, the plaintiff's country will probably waive its right to try to collect the judgment in American courts. This type of settlement is called "forum shopping" because it is common for people to go looking for the most favorable laws to bring their cases before American judges.
If you are given permission to sue by the federal government, your permission may be revoked at any time. Before signing anything, make sure you understand what your rights are if you are given permission to sue.
People often assume that just because you can sue anyone, all persons are subject to being sued. This is not true. Only individuals can be sued.
The federal government in the United States possesses sovereign immunity and may not be sued unless it has relinquished its immunity or consented to action. The United States is immune from litigation as a sovereign unless it expressly consents to being sued. Even when the United States does consent to suit, it can impose certain conditions on its consent. These include requirements that claims be filed with a specific agency, that specified periods of time pass without filing a claim, and so on.
Individual officers of the federal government may be able to be sued for damages under their personal liability insurance policies. Federal employees are generally covered by federal employee liability insurance programs. These programs provide coverage for civil actions brought against employees by their coworkers or others while performing duties within the scope of their employment. Employees can also purchase additional employer-provided insurance to cover themselves outside of the federal program.
Federal agencies are required to maintain certain levels of financial responsibility for injuries to employees or others who are third parties to the relationship between the agency and its employees. Generally speaking, this means that federal agencies must carry workers' compensation insurance. However, an exception exists for federal officials who are found to have acted beyond the scope of their authority. In such cases, they may be personally liable for any resulting judgments or settlements.
Agencies may also be held liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
The United States Court of Federal Claims considers matters involving claims for monetary damages against the United States, disagreements over federal contracts, issues involving the federal government's improper "takings" of private property, and other claims against the United States. The court has jurisdiction over these matters pursuant to the Tucker Act, which grants it power to consider any claim against the United States founded upon the Constitution, a statute or regulation of any general legislative authority. The Supreme Court of the United States generally reviews appeals from the Court of Federal Claims.
In addition to its role as a trial court, the United States Court of Federal Claims also serves as an appellate court. Any party dissatisfied with the Court of Federal Claims' decision may appeal that decision to the United States Supreme Court. Decisions of the Supreme Court denying review, dismissing cases for lack of jurisdiction, or otherwise leaving the judgment in place are all final judgments of the court.
Appeals from the Court of Federal Claims are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Acts of Congress can change where litigation concerning the government's conduct becomes admissible to seek relief from this court by repealing the waiver of sovereign immunity contained in the Tucker Act. For example, under the Veterans' Judicial Review Act of 1988 (VJRA), suits based on military pay should have been brought in district courts rather than the Court of Federal Claims.