Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC, 11-CV-3706

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtJack B. Weinstein
PartiesMATI GILL, Plaintiff, v. ARAB BANK, PLC, Defendant.
Docket Number11-CV-3706
Decision Date12 September 2012

MATI GILL, Plaintiff,
v.
ARAB BANK, PLC, Defendant.

11-CV-3706

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Date: September 12, 2012


MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING IN
PART MOTION TO DISMISS

Appearances:

For the Plaintiff:

Peter Raven-Hansen
George Washington University Law School
Washington, DC

Gary M. Osen
Aaron Schlanger
Osen LLC
Oradell, NJ

Joshua D. Glatter
Ari Ungar
Osen LLC
Hackensack, NJ

For the Defendant:

Kevin Walsh
Steven J. Young
Douglas Walter Mateyaschuk
DLA Piper LLP
New York, NY

JACK B. WEINSTEIN, Senior United States District Judge:

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Table of Contents

I. Introduction.............................................................................................................................2

II. Factual Allegations and Procedural History.......................................................................... 13

A. Factual Allegations in Amended Complaint......................................................... 13

1. April 2008 Attack on Plaintiff.........................................................................13
2. History of Bank and of Hamas........................................................................14
3. Defendant's Provision of Support to Hamas...................................................16
4. Consent Order and the Penalty Paid by Bank's New York Branch................19

B. Procedural History................................................................................................ 21

III. Law........................................................................................................................................ 23

A. Motion to Dismiss Standards................................................................................23

1. Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction.................................................................23
2. Failure to State a Claim...................................................................................24

B. Political Question Doctrine...................................................................................24

1. General Principles............................................................................................24
2. In ATA Context...............................................................................................27

C. Anti-Terrorism Act and Civil Liability................................................................. 28

1. Civil Remedy Provision Generally.................................................................. 28
2. Legislative History of Anti-Terrorism Act...................................................... 30
3. Civil Remedy Provision: Aiding and Abetting Liability.................................35
4. Civil Remedy Provision: Elements of Cause of Action..................................45
a. General Principles and Act Requirement: Claims Two Through Five...........45
b. Mental State: Claims Two Through Five........................................................46
c. Causation: Claims Two Through Five............................................................ 53
5. Act of War Defense: Procedural and Substantive Considerations..................55

D. Evidentiary Issues ................................................................................................. 72

1. Consideration of Admissibility at Summary Judgment................................... 72
2. Procedural History........................................................................................... 74

IV. Application of Law to Factual Allegations ........................................................................... 77

A. Political Question Doctrine Does Not Prevent Adjudication ............................... 77

B. Aiding and Abetting Assertion Not Viable........................................................... 77

C. Plaintiff's Other Claims Remain Viable on Present Motion ................................ 78

D. Act of War Exception Does Not Require Dismissal on Present Motion.............. 79

E. Evidentiary Issues to be Considered at Summary Judgment................................ 80

V. Conclusion............................................................................................................................. 80

I. Introduction

This memorandum and order deals with defendant's motion to dismiss on the pleadings, which is granted in part. See Part IV.B, infra. After further discovery, the court will consider defendant's motion for summary judgment. See Scheduling Order, Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC, No. 11-CV-3706 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 22, 2012), CM/ECF No. 58.

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Mati Gill, who possesses American and Israeli citizenship, sues Arab Bank plc (the "Bank"), for money damages. He was wounded in 2008 by gunshots fired from Gaza into Israel. The Islamic Resistance Movement ("Hamas") claimed "credit" for the shooting. Hamas has been officially characterized by the United States government as a "terrorist" organization. See Designation of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, 62 Fed. Reg. 52,650 (Oct. 8, 1997); Exec. Ord. No. 12,947, 60 Fed. Reg. 5079, 5081 (Jan. 25, 1995); see also Holy Land Found. for Relief & Dev. v. Ashcroft, 219 F. Supp. 2d 57, 63 (D.D.C. 2002). It is effectively in political and military control of Gaza. See, e.g., Zahren v. Gonzales, 487 F.3d 1039, 1040 (7th Cir. 2007), vacated on reh'g on other grounds sub nom. Zahren v. Holder, 637 F.3d 698 (7th Cir. 2011).

The plaintiff asserts five causes of action. One of these—the first, depending on a theory of aiding and abetting—is dismissed for the reasons stated below. All of the others will require essentially the same proof of unlawful action, state of mind, and causation. See Part III.C.4, infra.

The Bank has moved, pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss the amended complaint. A number of complex legal arguments have been raised in support of its motion. It is contended principally that:

1. The court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the case pursuant to the political question doctrine;
2. The plaintiff's claims must be dismissed, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2336(a), since his injuries were suffered during the course of an armed conflict between military forces;
3. Recovery on an aiding-and-abetting theory is precluded; and

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4. The plaintiff has failed to adequately allege all of the elements of a claim under the civil remedy provision of the relevant anti-terrorism statute.

See generally Memorandum of Law of Defendant Arab Bank plc in Support of Its Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint ("Def Mem."), Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC, No. 11-CV-3706 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 9, 2012), CM/ECF No. 21.

The complex factual and legal issues presented preclude disposing of this litigation on defendant's motion directed at the pleadings. See Parts III and IV, infra. Plaintiff's amended complaint, except for his aiding and abetting claim, survives a Rule 12 attack. See Parts III.C.3 and IV.B, infra; see also Part III.C.5, infra. The court has instructed the defendant to file a motion for summary judgment since a factual record is required for a dispositive motion to be properly considered. See June 28, 2012 Hr'g Tr. 35; see also Scheduling Order, Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC, No. 11-CV-3706 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 22, 2012), CM/ECF No. 58.

Asserted by plaintiff are a variety of claims brought pursuant to the federal anti-terrorism laws. See 18 U.S.C. § 2331 et seq. Courts that have addressed claims brought under the statute providing a civil cause of action to American nationals injured by terrorist acts have referred to it generally as the "ATA." The current version of the applicable civil remedy provision became federal law as part of the Federal Courts Administration Act of 1992. See Boim v. Holy Land Found. for Relief & Dev., 549 F.3d 685, 690 (7th Cir. 2008) (en banc) (Posner, J.); Almog v. Arab Bank, PLC, 471 F. Supp. 2d 257, 265-66 (E.D.N.Y. 2007). The governing statute will be referred to as the "Anti-Terrorism Act" or the "ATA."

The Bank is alleged to have maintained accounts for and provided financial services to Hamas, its leaders, and its affiliates. See Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") ¶ 47, Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC, No. 11-CV-3706 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2012), CM/ECF No. 17. Plaintiff contends that

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the Bank's provision of financial support and financial services to Hamas, its supporters, and its associates caused his injury.

A critical aspect of the litigation is the reliance by plaintiff on the oversight of the Bank exercised by the United States government to prevent aid to terrorists. Executive action and the potential recovery in tort of private plaintiffs are complementary. Both support the government's anti-terrorism policy.

The Bank's New York branch assented to the issuance of a consent order in 2005 by the federal government's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. It was agreed that the New York branch would thenceforth develop policies to ensure compliance with federal banking...

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