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Yang v. Tsui

August 3, 2005

TSAI-YI YANG APPELLANT
v.
FU-CHIANG TSUI



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 03-cv-01613). District Judge: Honorable Thomas M. Hardiman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roth, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued September 30, 2004

Before: ROTH, BARRY, and CHERTOFF*fn1, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

Tsai-Yi Yang filed a Petition pursuant to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, done at The Hague on October 25, 1980 (Hague Convention), and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11601, et seq. (2004) (ICARA), its implementing statute, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Citing Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), the District Court abstained from consideration of the Petition and denied as moot Yang's motion to stay state court custody proceedings. Yang filed a timely appeal. For the reasons that follow, we will reverse the District Court's decision to abstain and will remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. Background

The undisputed facts are that Tsai-Yi Yang and Fu-Chiang Tsui are the mother and father, respectively, of a daughter. Yang is a resident of British Columbia, Canada, and Tsui is a resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A dispute as to the custody of the child led each party to file for custody, resulting in an award of custody to Tsui in Pennsylvania and an award of custody to Yang in British Columbia. After unsuccessfully attempting to secure a voluntary return of the child, Yang filed this Petition with the District Court.

II. Jurisdiction and Standard of Review

The District Court had jurisdiction pursuant to ICARA, 42 U.S.C. § 11603. At the time Yang's Petition was filed in the District Court, the child was located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.We have appellate jurisdiction over the appeal from the District Court's final order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

We exercise plenary review over the legal determination of whether the requirements for Younger abstention have been met and, if so, we review the District Court's decision to abstain for abuse of discretion. O'Neill v. City of Phila., 32 F.3d 785, 790 (3d Cir. 1994). In reviewing the District Court's denial of the motion to stay, we exercise plenary review over the District Court's legal conclusions. Shire U.S. Inc. v. Barr Labs., Inc., 329 F.3d 348, 352 (3d Cir. 2003).

III. Discussion

A. The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty on parental kidnapping to which the United States and Canada are signatories. The Hague Convention's goal is to "protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence, as well as to secure protection for rights of access." Hague Convention, Preamble, 19 I.L.M. 1501, 1501 (1980). Article 16 provides that "until it has been determined that the child is not to be returned under the Convention," the state to which the child has been removed "shall not decide on the merits of rights of custody." Hague Convention, art. 16, 19 I.L.M. at 1503. Article 17 provides that "[t]he sole fact that a decision relating to custody has ...


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