Waldman v. Palestine Liberation Organization, 083116 FED2, 15-3135-cv (L)

Docket Nº:15-3135-cv (L), 15-3151-cv (XAP)
Opinion Judge:JOHN G. KOELTL, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Party Name:Eva Waldman, Revital Bauer, individually and as natural guardian of plaintiffs Yehonathon Bauer, Binyamin Bauer, Daniel Bauer and Yehuda Bauer, Shaul Mandelkorn, Nurit Mandelkorn, Oz Joseph Guetta, minor, by his next friend and guardian Varda Guetta, Varda Guetta, individually and as natural guardian of plaintiff Oz Joseph Guetta, Norman Gritz,...
Attorney:KENT A. YALOWITZ, Arnold & Porter, LLP, for Plaintiffs-Appellees-Cross-Appellants. GASSAN A. BALOUL (Mitchell R. Berger, Pierre H. Bergeron, John A. Burlingame, Alexandra E. Chopin, on the brief), Squire Patton Boggs (US), LLP, for Defendants-Appellants-Cross-Appellees. David A. Reiser, Zuckerman...
Judge Panel:Before: Leval and Droney, Circuit Judges, and Koeltl, District Judge.
Case Date:August 31, 2016
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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Eva Waldman, Revital Bauer, individually and as natural guardian of plaintiffs Yehonathon Bauer, Binyamin Bauer, Daniel Bauer and Yehuda Bauer, Shaul Mandelkorn, Nurit Mandelkorn, Oz Joseph Guetta, minor, by his next friend and guardian Varda Guetta, Varda Guetta, individually and as natural guardian of plaintiff Oz Joseph Guetta, Norman Gritz, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of David Gritz, Mark I. Sokolow, individually and as a natural guardian of Plaintiff Jamie A. Sokolow, Rena M. Sokolow, individually and as a natural guardian of plaintiff Jaime A. Sokolow, Jamie A. Sokolow, minor, by her next friends and guardian Mark I. Sokolow and Rena M. Sokolow, Lauren M. Sokolow, Elana R. Sokolow, Shayna Eileen Gould, Ronald Allan Gould, Elise Janet Gould, Jessica Rine, Shmuel Waldman, Henna Novack Waldman, Morris Waldman, Alan J. Bauer, individually and as natural guardian of plaintiffs Yehonathon Bauer, Binyamin Bauer, Daniel Bauer and Yehuda Bauer, Yehonathon Bauer, minor, by his next friend and guardians Dr. Alan J. Bauer and Revital Bauer, Binyamin Bauer, minor, by his next friend and guardians Dr. Alan J. Bauer and Revital Bauer, Daniel Bauer, minor, by his next friend and guardians Dr. Alan J. Bauer and Revital Bauer, Yehuda Bauer, minor, by his next friend and guardians Dr. Alan J. Bauer and Revital Bauer, Rabbi Leonard Mandelkorn, Katherine Baker, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Benjamin Blutstein, Rebekah Blutstein, Richard Blutstein, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Benjamin Blutstein, Larry Carter, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Diane ("Dina") Carter, Shaun Coffel, Dianne Coulter Miller, Robert L Coulter, Jr., Robert L. Coulter, Sr., individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Janis Ruth Coulter, Chana Bracha Goldberg, minor, by her next friend and guardian Karen Goldberg, Eliezer Simcha Goldberg, minor, by her next friend and guardian Karen Goldberg, Esther Zahava Goldberg, minor, by her next friend and guardian Karen Goldberg, Karen Goldberg, individually, as personal representative of the Estate of Stuart Scott Goldberg/natural guardian of plaintiffs Chana Bracha Goldberg, Esther Zahava Goldberg, Yitzhak Shalom Goldberg, Shoshana Malka Goldberg, Eliezer Simcha Goldberg, Yaakov Moshe Goldberg, Tzvi Yehoshua Goldberg, Shoshana Malka Goldberg, minor, by her next friend and guardian Karen Goldberg, Tzvi Yehoshua Goldberg, minor, by her next friend and guardian Karen Goldberg, Yaakov Moshe Goldberg, minor, by her next friend and guardian Karen Goldberg, Yitzhak Shalom Goldberg, minor, by her next friend and guardian Karen Goldberg, Nevenka Gritz, sole heir of Norman Gritz, deceased, Plaintiffs-Appellees-Cross-Appellants,

v.

Palestine Liberation Organization, Palestinian Authority, AKA Palestinian Interim Self- overnment Authority and or Palestinian Council and or Palestinian National Authority, Defendants
Appellants
Cross-Appellees,

Yasser Arafat, Marwin Bin Khatib Barghouti, Ahmed Taleb Mustapha Barghouti, AKA Al-Faransi, Nasser Mahmoud Ahmed Aweis, Majid Alasri, AKA Abu Mojahed, Mahmoud Al-Titi, Mohammed Abdel Rahman Salam Masalah, AKA Abu Satkhah, Faras Sadak Mohammed Ghanem, AKA Hitawi, Mohammed Sami Ibrahim Abdullah, Estate of Said Ramadan, deceased, Abdel Karim Ratab Yunis Aweis, Nasser Jamal Mousa Shawish, Toufik Tirawi, Hussein Al-Shaykh, Sana'a Muhammed Shehadeh, Kaira Said Ali Sadi, Estate of Mohammed Hashaika, deceased, Munzar Mahmoud Khalil Noor, Estate of Wafa Idris, deceased, Estate of Mazan Faritach, deceased, Estate of Muhanad Abu Halawa, deceased, John Does, 1-99, Hassan Abdel Rahman, Defendants.

Nos. 15-3135-cv (L), 15-3151-cv (XAP)

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

August 31, 2016

Argued: April 12, 2016

The defendants-appellants-cross-appellees ("defendants") appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Daniels, J.) in favor of the plaintiffs-appellees-cross-appellants ("plaintiffs"). A jury found the defendants---the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority---liable under the Anti-Terrorism Act ("ATA"), 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a), for various terror attacks in Israel that killed or wounded United States citizens. The jury awarded the plaintiffs damages of $218.5 million, an amount that was trebled automatically pursuant to the ATA, 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a), bringing the total award to $655.5 million. The defendants appeal, arguing that the district court lacked general and specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants, and, in the alternative, seek a new trial because the district court abused its discretion by allowing certain testimony by two expert witnesses. The plaintiffs cross-appeal, asking this Court to reinstate claims the district court dismissed.

We vacate the judgment of the district court and remand the case with instructions to dismiss the action because the federal courts lack personal jurisdiction over the defendants with respect to the claims in this action. We do not reach the remaining issues.

KENT A. YALOWITZ, Arnold & Porter, LLP, for Plaintiffs-Appellees-Cross-Appellants.

GASSAN A. BALOUL (Mitchell R. Berger, Pierre H. Bergeron, John A. Burlingame, Alexandra E. Chopin, on the brief), Squire Patton Boggs (US), LLP, for Defendants-Appellants-Cross-Appellees.

David A. Reiser, Zuckerman Spaeder, LLP, and Peter Raven-Hansen, George Washington University Law School, on the brief for Amici Curiae Former Federal Officials in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellees-Cross-Appellants.

James P. Bonner, Stone, Bonner & Rocco, LLP, and Steven R. Perles, Perles Law Firm, on the brief for Amici Curiae Arthur Barry Sotloff, Shirley Goldie Pulwer, Lauren Sotloff, and the Estate of Steven Joel Sotloff in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellees-Cross-Appellants.

Before: Leval and Droney, Circuit Judges, and Koeltl, District Judge. [*]

JOHN G. KOELTL, DISTRICT JUDGE.

In this case, eleven American families sued the Palestine Liberation Organization ("PLO") and the Palestinian Authority ("PA") (collectively, "defendants")1 under the Anti-Terrorism Act ("ATA"), 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a), for various terror attacks in Israel that killed or wounded the plaintiffs-appellees-cross-appellants ("plaintiffs") or their family members.2

The defendants repeatedly argued before the District Court for the Southern District of New York that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over them in light of their minimal presence in, and the lack of any nexus between the facts underlying the plaintiffs' claims and the United States. The district court (Daniels, J.) concluded that it had general personal jurisdiction over the defendants, even after the Supreme Court narrowed the test for general jurisdiction in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746 (2014). See Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Org., No. 04-cv-397 (GBD), 2014 WL 6811395, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 1, 2014); see also Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Org., No. 04-cv-397 (GBD), 2011 WL 1345086, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 30, 2011).

After a seven-week trial, a jury found that the defendants, acting through their employees, perpetrated the attacks and that the defendants knowingly provided material support to organizations designated by the United States State Department as foreign terrorist organizations. The jury awarded the plaintiffs damages of $218.5 million, an amount that was trebled automatically pursuant to the ATA, 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a), bringing the total award to $655.5 million.

On appeal, the defendants seek to overturn the jury's verdict by arguing that the United States Constitution precludes the exercise of personal jurisdiction over them. In the alternative, the defendants seek a new trial, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by allowing certain testimony by two expert witnesses. The plaintiffs cross-appeal, asking this Court to reinstate non-federal claims that the district court dismissed, and reinstate the claims of two plaintiffs for which the district court found insufficient evidence to submit to the jury.

We conclude that the district court erred when it concluded it had personal jurisdiction over the defendants with respect to the claims at issue in this action. Therefore, we VACATE the judgment of the district court and REMAND the case to the district court with instructions to DISMISS the case for want of personal jurisdiction. Accordingly, we do not consider the defendants' other arguments on appeal or the plaintiffs' cross-appeal, all of which are now moot.

I.

A.

The PA was established by the 1993 Oslo Accords as the interim and non-sovereign government of parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (collectively referred to here as "Palestine"). The PA is headquartered in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, where the Palestinian President and the PA's ministers reside.

The PLO was founded in 1964. At all relevant times, the PLO was headquartered in Ramallah, the Gaza Strip, and Amman, Jordan. Because the Oslo Accords limit the PA's authority to Palestine, the PLO conducts Palestine's foreign affairs.

During...

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