BREAKING NEWS

U.S. top court will not revive verdict against Palestinian Authority, PLO

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider reinstating a $655.5 million jury award won against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization in a case brought by 11 American families over militant attacks in Israel.
The court declined to hear the families' appeal of a lower court's 2016 ruling that threw out the jury award secured in a lawsuit under the Anti-Terrorism Act, a law that lets American victims of international terrorism seek damages in U.S. courts.President Donald Trump's administration had sided with the Palestinian Authority and PLO in the dispute, urging the justices not to take up the case while still noting that private lawsuits under the Anti-Terrorism Act are "an important means of fighting terrorism and providing redress for the victims of terrorist attacks and their families."
The families had sought to hold the Palestinian Authority and PLO liable for six shootings and bombings between 2002 and 2004 in the Jerusalem area. The attacks killed 33 people, including several Americans, and wounded more than 450. They have been attributed to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas.
Lead plaintiff Mark Sokolow, his wife and their two daughters were injured in a 2002 suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that the civil lawsuit, which began in January 2004, be dismissed. The appeals court said the attacks occurred "entirely outside" U.S. territory, and found no evidence that Americans were targeted. As a result, American courts do not have jurisdiction to hear the claims, the appeals court said.
The families said late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004, and his agents routinely arranged for payments to attackers and to families of militants who died. The Palestinian Authority and PLO have said they condemned the attacks and blamed them on rogue individuals within the organizations acting on their own.
In 2015, after a six-week trial, a federal jury in Manhattan awarded the families $218.5 million, which was tripled automatically to $655.5 million under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the appeals court decision "eviscerates the Anti-Terrorism Act" by severely limiting what cases can be heard in U.S. courts. They argued that Congress wrote the law specifically to apply to attacks that took place outside the United States in which U.S. citizens were injured or killed, whether or not Americans were specifically targeted.
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