Estate of Klieman v. Palestinian Authority, 051419 FEDDC, 15-7034

Docket Nº:15-7034
Opinion Judge:WILLIAMS, SENIOR CIRCUIT JUDGE
Party Name:Estate of Esther Klieman, by and through its Administrator, Aaron Kesner, et al., Appellants v. Palestinian Authority, also known as Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization, also known as PLO, Appellees
Attorney:Edward B. MacAllister argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Richard D. Heideman, Tracy Reichman Kalik, and Steven R. Perles. Mitchell R. Berger argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Gassan A. Baloul and Alexandra E. Chopin. Pierre H. Bergeron, John Burl...
Judge Panel:Before: Garland, Chief Judge, Katsas, Circuit Judge, and Williams, Senior Circuit Judge.
Case Date:May 14, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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Estate of Esther Klieman, by and through its Administrator, Aaron Kesner, et al., Appellants

v.

Palestinian Authority, also known as Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization, also known as PLO, Appellees

No. 15-7034

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

May 14, 2019

Argued December 13, 2018

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:04-cv-01173)

Edward B. MacAllister argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Richard D. Heideman, Tracy Reichman Kalik, and Steven R. Perles.

Mitchell R. Berger argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Gassan A. Baloul and Alexandra E. Chopin. Pierre H. Bergeron, John Burlingame, and Laura G. Ferguson entered appearances.

Before: Garland, Chief Judge, Katsas, Circuit Judge, and Williams, Senior Circuit Judge.

OPINION

WILLIAMS, SENIOR CIRCUIT JUDGE

During the Second Intifada, Palestinian terrorists ambushed an Israeli public bus traveling in the West Bank and opened fire, killing an American schoolteacher, Esther Klieman. Klieman's estate (along with some survivors and heirs) sued numerous defendants- including the Palestinian Authority ("PA") and Palestinian Liberation Organization ("PLO")-under the Anti-Terrorism Act ("ATA"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2331, et seq., among other laws. Having previously dismissed the case against all non-PA/PLO defendants for insufficient service of process, Estate of Klieman v. Palestinian Auth., 547 F.Supp.2d 8, 15 (D.D.C. 2008), the district court dismissed the case against the PA/PLO for want of personal jurisdiction under the constraints of the due process clause, Estate of Klieman v. Palestinian Auth., 82 F.Supp.3d 237 (D.D.C. 2015). Plaintiffs now appeal.

In Livnat v. Palestinian Authority, 851 F.3d 45, 48-54 (D.C. Cir. 2017), cert. denied, 139 S.Ct. 373 (2018), this court held that the due process clause of the 5th Amendment barred U.S. courts from exercising jurisdiction over non-sovereign foreign entities without an adequate nexus to the United States. (In contrast, foreign sovereigns sued in the United States do not enjoy the benefit of this due process protection.) The district court here found that plaintiffs had failed to establish such a nexus for the PA/PLO.

We agree. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in agreeing, in light of the intervening Supreme Court case of Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), to reconsider its earlier ruling that the court had general personal jurisdiction over defendants. As plaintiffs recognize, Daimler (and this court's opinion in Livnat) effectively foreclose a ruling that the district court had general jurisdiction over the PA/PLO. See Klieman Br. 29. We then consider plaintiffs' argument for specific jurisdiction and their request for discovery to substantiate that theory, but find both sets of arguments inadequate. Finally, we address § 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-253, 132 Stat. 3183 ("ATCA") (codified at 18 U.S.C. § 2334(e)), enacted during the pendency of this appeal and deeming certain conduct to qualify as consent to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts over terrorism cases. We find that plaintiffs have established neither the circumstances rendering § 4 applicable nor facts justifying a remand for discovery on the issue. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the district court.

* * *

On March 24, 2002, a group of terrorists carried out an attack on an Israeli bus in the West Bank, killing Esther Klieman. See Estate of Klieman, 82 F.Supp.3d at 240; see also Compl. ¶¶ 23-25 (Jul. 13, 2004), ECF No. 1.1 Plaintiffs brought suit in 2004 against a host of defendants, including the PA, PLO, and other Palestinian individuals and entities, including the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that had "claimed responsibility for the attack." Estate of Klieman, 82 F.Supp.3d at 240.

Plaintiffs allege among other things that the PA/PLO, acting "by and through their officials, employees and agents," had "provided" other defendants "weapons, instrumentalities, permission, training, and funding for their terrorist activities," along with "safe haven and a base of operations," and encouraged certain defendants to "plan and execute acts of violence, murder and terrorism against innocent civilians in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank"-including the attack that killed Klieman. Compl. ¶ 40; see also Compl. ¶¶ 41-49. Besides asserting various tort claims, plaintiffs alleged violations of the ATA, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2332, 2333, and 2339A. See Compl. ¶¶ 50-60. Section 2333 creates a cause of action for "[a]ny national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism, or his or her estate, survivors, or heirs." 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a); see id. § 2331(1) (defining "international terrorism"). And § 2333(d)(2) creates liability for persons who have aided or abetted, or conspired with a designated foreign terrorist organization (such as the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade) in the commission of terrorist acts.

Defendants moved in May 2006 to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting among other problems that they had insufficient "minimum contacts" with the United States. See Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction 3 (May 30, 2006), ECF No. 55. As to the PA/PLO, the district court initially ruled, in December 2006, that it could exercise general jurisdiction over these defendants. Estate of Klieman v. Palestinian Auth., 467 F.Supp.2d 107, 113 (D.D.C. 2006). In April 2008, it denied defendants' motion for reconsideration of that decision. Mem. Op. and Order (Apr. 24, 2008), ECF No. 85. Fact discovery proceeded until 2013.

In February 2014, defendants filed a motion for reconsideration of the 2006 and 2008 rulings, invoking the requirements for general personal jurisdiction set forth in Daimler, 571 U.S. at 137. See Defs.' Mot. for Reconsideration (Feb. 5, 2014), ECF No. 233. The district court agreed to reconsider the matter. It also embraced defendants' jurisdictional argument, finding that the PA/PLO are not "at home" in the United States, as required for purposes of general jurisdiction under Daimler. It then found unpersuasive plaintiffs' theory of specific jurisdiction and denied their request for jurisdictional discovery. As the PA/PLO had been the "sole remaining defendants," the district court dismissed the case. Estate of Klieman, 82 F.Supp.3d at 250.

Following the roadmap laid out above, we affirm.

* * *

The due process limits on judicial exercise of personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants take two forms: "general or all-purpose jurisdiction, and specific or conduct-linked jurisdiction." Daimler, 571 U.S. at 122. General jurisdiction licenses a court "to hear any and all claims against" a defendant, Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011)-no matter where arising. Specific jurisdiction permits a court only to hear disputes that "aris[e] out of or relat[e] to the defendant's contacts with the forum." Daimler, 571 U.S. at 127 (quoting Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n.8 (1984)).

General jurisdiction entails a relatively demanding standard-reflecting its plenary reach over a defendant's affairs. "A court may assert general jurisdiction over foreign . . . corporations to hear any and all claims against them when their affiliations with the [forum] are so 'continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum . . . ." Daimler, 571 U.S. at 127 (emphasis added) (quoting Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919). The upshot is that, absent exceptional circumstances, see, e.g., Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437 (1952), general jurisdiction will lie only where an entity is formally incorporated or maintains its principal place of business, see BNSF Ry. Co. v. Tyrrell, 137 S.Ct. 1549, 1558 (2017); Daimler, 571 U.S. at 138-39 & n.19.

Specific jurisdiction's more limited scope justifies a less onerous standard. First, a defendant need not be "at home" in the forum. Second, unlike with general jurisdiction, minimum contacts must stem from or relate to conduct giving rise to the suit. Plaintiffs must establish a relationship among "the defendant, the forum, and the litigation." Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. 277, 291 (2014) (quoting Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 788 (1984)). More specifically, for a court "to exercise [specific] jurisdiction consistent with due process, the defendant's suit-related conduct must create a substantial connection with the forum." Id. at 284 (emphases added).

Where, as...

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