After years of litigation in which Arab Bank has denied any wrongdoing, on February 9, 2018 the Second Circuit ruled in Arab Bank’s favor in a unanimous decision overturning a disputed liability verdict in Linde v. Arab Bank. The Second Circuit found that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the elements of a liability claim under the Anti-Terrorism Act, including that the defendant’s actions must have been intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence a government. This outcome brings finality to this case and means the Bank is not liable for the alleged injuries.
On April 24, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Arab Bank’s favor in Jesner v. Arab Bank, finding that foreign corporations are not proper defendants in suits brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). In the Court’s Opinion, Justice Kennedy cited “judicial deference” and wrote that “any imposition of corporate liability on foreign corporations for violations of international law must be determined in the first instance by the political branches of the Government.” This decision upholds the dismissal of these ATS claims by lower courts.
In July 2004, the first of many civil lawsuits was filed against Arab Bank by victims of terrorism in Israel and the Palestinian Territories in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York; additional actions were filed in the ensuing years. The plaintiffs included American citizens, who sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), and foreign nationals, who sued under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). They did not allege that the Bank engaged in acts of terrorism. Rather, they claimed that the Bank provided banking services to individuals or organizations that allegedly maintained affiliations with terrorist groups. Arab Bank has denied any wrongdoing; it maintained that it provided lawful and legitimate banking services, including the processing of automated, electronic fund transfer instructions in conformity with governing compliance rules and screening those transfers against government lists of known and suspected terrorists.
On November 6, 2012, Senior Judge Jack B. Weinstein dismissed in its entirety Mati Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC, the first case to reach a final judgment. In this case brought under the ATA, Judge Weinstein evaluated the evidence and found that it did not support the claim “that the Bank acted with an improper state of mind or proximately caused plaintiff’s injury.” [Read the full opinion here.]
On February 9, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously reversed the District Court’s liability verdict in Linde v. Arab Bank, ruling that the Court erred in failing to provide the jury with adequate instructions. This outcome brings finality to the cases brought under the ATA. [Read the full opinion here.]
Alien Tort Statute
On August 23, 2013, Eastern District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan ordered the dismissal of separate claims filed by more than 6,000 plaintiffs against Arab Bank under the ATS. The decision dismissed more than 90 percent of the claims pending against the Bank. [Read the opinion here.]
In December 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed this dismissal, and on April 24, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit’s decision and the Eastern District Court’s dismissal of the case [Read the opinion here.]
This outcome brings finality to all ATS claims against the Bank.