A U.S. appeals court overturned a $655.5 million judgement against two Palestinian groups, who had previously been found liable to American families for supporting terror activities in Israel.
The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization were found liable for six shooting and bombings between 2002 and 2004 by a federal jury in February 2015. The attacks killed 33 people, including several Americans.
The jurors awarded 10 families of the American victims $218.5 million in compensation, which is automatically tripled under an anti-terrorism law.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a lower court judge had no jurisdiction over the defendants, and hence dismissed the lawsuit.
“The terror machine gun attacks and suicide bombings that triggered this suit and victimized these plaintiffs were unquestionably horrific,” Judge John Koeltl wrote for the appeals court. “But the federal courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in a civil case beyond the limits prescribed by the due process clause of the Constitution, no matter how horrendous the underlying attacks or morally compelling the plaintiffs’ claims.”
Kent A. Yalowitz, a lawyer representing the families in the case, called for the decision to be corrected, as the Anti-Terrorism Act was passed by Congress “to protect Americans wherever in the world they traveled.”
“The very terrorists who prompted the law have now hidden behind the U.S. Constitution to avoid responsibility for their crimes,” Yalowitz said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “This cruel decision must be corrected so that these families may receive justice.”
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