On October 7, 2020, in the case of Jacquety v. Baptisa, the U.S. District Court addressed the preliminary matter of whether Baptisa’s apparent boyfriend, Wadghiri, was a proper party to the litigation. Jacquety filed a Hague Abduction return petition in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the child’s mother, Baptista, and her apparent boyfriend, Wadghiri, with whom she and the child were living in New York. When Baptista left Morocco, by way of Switzerland, she landed in New York and immediately began living with Wadghiri. Wadghiri submitted a letter to the court, which the court construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment. In the letter, he argued that he was an improper party because he has no control over the child, and, if ordered to return the child, he could not do so. Jacquety argued that there is no limitation on who can be sued to return a child, and it should not be limited to only relatives. He cited to the U.S. implementing legislation, the treaty’s Explanatory Report and a report from the Special Commission meeting listing potential abductors to include (for example) a grandfather or adoptive father.
The argument herein comes down to redressability. “[W]hen establishing redressability, a plaintiff need only show that a favorable ruling could potentially lessen its injury; it need not definitively demonstrate that a victory would completely remedy the harm.” In citing to another case where a maternal grandfather was sued using the treaty, the court said, “[b]ecause the grandfather had a close relationship with the children, and petitioner had alleged he played a role in both the children’s removal and ‘their alleged concealment,’ his actions were ‘clearly within the scope of actions addressed by the Hague Convention.’ The court further held that, because he could be liable for expenses, returning the children was not the only form of redress and adding him as a respondent would not be futile.”
The court concluded that Wadghiri was involved in various aspects of the child’s removal, including making travel arrangements, coordinating lawyer meetings, and providing a place to live. He contemplated having a family-like relationship with Baptista and the child. While he may not be able to actually effectuate the child’s return, his circumstances permit him some role over the return.