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Sokolow v. The Palestine Liberation Organization

United States District Court, S.D. New York

November 19, 2014

MARK I. SOKOLOW, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION, THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants

Page 510

For Mark I. Sokolow, inidivudally and as a natural gaurdian of plaintiff Jamie A. Sokolow, Rena M. Sokolow, inidivudally and as 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, Ronald Allan Gould, Elise Janet Gould, Jessica Rine, Shmuel Waldman, Henna Novack Waldman, Morris Waldman, Eva Waldman, 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, Oz Joseph Guetta, monir, by his next friend and guardian Varda Guetta, 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 pers. rep. of the Est. of Stuart Scott Goldberg/ nat. guard. of pltffs Chana Bracha Goldberg, Esther Zahava Goldberg, Yitzhak Shalom Goldberg, Shoshana Malka Goldberg, Eliezer Simcha Goldberg, Yaakov Moshe Goldberg, Tzvi YehoshuaGoldberg, 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: Kent A. Yalowitz, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ken Laves Hashimoto, Arnold & Porter, LLP, New York, NY; Robert Joseph Tolchin, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Berkman Law Office, LLC, Brooklyn, NY; Philip W Horton, Arnold and Porter, Washington, DC; Rachel Weiser Weiser, PRO HAC VICE, Milano Law Offices, Rocky River, OH.

For Shayna Eileen Gould, Dr. Alan J. Bauer, inidividually and as natural guardian of plainitffs Yehonathon Bauer, Binyamin Bauer, Daniel Bauer and Yehuda Bauer, Revital Bauer, inidividually and as a natural guardian of plainiffs 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, Rabbi Leonard Mandelkorn, Shaul Mandelkorn, Nurit Mandelkorn, Dr. Katherine Baker, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Benjamin Blutstein, Rebekah Blutstein, Dr. Richard Blutstein, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Benjamin Blutstein, Dr. Larry Carter, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Diane (" Dina" ) Carter, Shaun Coffel, Plaintiffs: Robert Joseph Tolchin, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Berkman Law Office, LLC, Brooklyn, NY; Carmela T. Romeo, Arnold & Itkin (1401 Mckinney St), Houston, TX; Ken Laves Hashimoto, Kent A. Yalowitz, Lucy Sarah McMillan, Sara Kate Pildis, Tal Rachel Machnes, Arnold & Porter, LLP, New York, NY; Philip W Horton, Arnold and Porter, Washington, DC; Rachel Weiser Weiser, PRO HAC VICE, Milano Law Offices, Rocky River, OH.

For Varda Guetta, inidividually and as natural guardian of plainitff Oz Joseph Guetta, Plaintiff: Kent A. Yalowitz, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ken Laves Hashimoto, Lucy Sarah McMillan, Sara Kate Pildis, Tal Rachel Machnes, Arnold & Porter, LLP, New York, NY; Robert Joseph Tolchin, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Berkman Law Office, LLC, Brooklyn, NY; Carmela T. Romeo, Arnold & Itkin (1401 Mckinney St), Houston, TX; Philip W Horton, PRO HAC VICE, Arnold and Porter, Washington, DC; Rachel Weiser Weiser, PRO HAC VICE, Milano Law Offices, Rocky River, OH.

For Subpoenaed Non-Party The British Broadcasting Corporation, Movant: Louise Sommers, LEAD ATTORNEY, David S. Korzenik, Miller Korzenik Sommers LLP, New York, NY.

For Palestine Liberation Organization, Palestinian Authority, also known as Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority and or Palestinian Council and or Palestinian National Authority, Defendants: Laura G. Ferguson, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Andrew Todd Wise, Miller & Chevalier, Chartered, Washington, DC; Brian A. Hill, Dawn E. Murphy-Johnson, PRO HAC VICE, Lamia Rita Matta, Mark John Rochon, Matthew Thomas Reinhard, Michael Satin, Richard A. Hibey, Timothy P. O'Toole, Miller & Chevalier, Chartered, Washington, DC.

For Reuven Gilmore, Zehava Sheila Gilmore, Talya Gilmore, Inbal Gilmore, Malkitzedek Gilmore, Tiferet Gilmore, Heftzibah Gilmore, Eliana Gilmore, Dror Gilmore, Intervenors: Robert Joseph Tolchin, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Berkman Law Office, LLC, Brooklyn, NY.

For Sharyl Attkisson, Edwin Black, Steven Emerson, Intervenors: Ronald David Coleman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rosalie Consuelo Valentino, Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP, New York, NY.

Page 511

ORDER

GEORGE B. DANIELS, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs brought this case pursuant to the Antiterrorism Act of 1992, 18 U.S.C. § 2331, et. seq. (" ATA" ), as well as several non-federal causes of action. Defendants, the Palestine Liberation Organization (" PLO" ) and the Palestinian Authority (" PA" ), move for summary judgment in their favor to dismiss all of the counts in the First Amended Complaint. (Def

Page 512

Mem., ECF No. 497.) Plaintiffs are United States citizens and the guardians, family members, and personal representatives of the estates of United States citizens who were killed or injured during terrorist attacks that occurred between January 8, 2001 and January 29, 2004 in or near Jerusalem.

Defendants' motion for summary judgment is DENIED with respect to the ATA claims of vicarious liability against the PA, except it is GRANTED as to the Mandelkorn Plaintiffs' ATA claim of vicarious liability.

Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED with respect to the ATA claims of vicarious liability against the PLO.

Defendants' motion for summary judgment is DENIED with respect to the ATA claims of direct liability.

Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED with respect to all of Plaintiffs' non-federal claims.[1]

ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiffs allege that the " PLO has funded, planned and carried out thousands of terrorist bombings and shootings, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians and the wounding of thousands more," and the " PA has planned and carried out hundreds of terrorist bombings and shootings, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the wounding of thousands more." (Am. Compl., ECF No. 4, \ P¶ 49-50.)

Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants " planned and carried out terrorist attacks against civilians through their officials, agents and employees." ( id. ¶ 51.) Among these attacks are the seven bombings and shootings at issue.[2] Plaintiffs allege that these attacks were planned and carried out by individuals " acting as agents and employees of the PLO and PA and within the scope of their agency and employment, pursuant to the prior authorization, instructions, solicitation and directives of defendants PLO and PA, in furtherance of the goals and policies of defendants PLO and PA, and using funds, weapons, means of transportation and communication and other material support and resources supplied by defendants PLO and PA for the express purpose of carrying out [these] attack[s] and terrorist attacks of this type." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 60, 76, 85, 99, 107, 115, 116, 125.) Plaintiffs allege that " [t]he actions of defendants violate, or if committed within U.S. jurisdiction would violate literally scores of federal and state criminal statutes." ( Id. ¶ 127.)

In addition to the ATA claims, Plaintiffs bring non-federal law claims, including: wrongful death (count two); battery (count four); assault (count five); loss of consortium and solatium (count six); negligence (count seven); intentional infliction of emotional distress (count eight); and negligent infliction of emotional distress (count nine).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND[3]

The PLO was founded in 1964 by the Arab League and was recognized as the

Page 513

representative of the Palestinian people by Israel as part of the Oslo Accords in 1993. (Def. 56.1, ECF No. 498, Ex. A, ¶ 1.)[4] The PA was established by the PLO after the Oslo Accords to serve as the governing authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. ( id. ¶ 2.) Neither the PLO nor the PA is an individual, corporation or partnership. ( id. ¶ ¶ 17-22.) Defendants state that " [i]n 2002, the PA had over 100,000 employees." ( id. ¶ 40.)

Seven separate attacks occurred in or near Jerusalem between 2001 and 2004. The parties dispute almost all of the facts concerning who was responsible for these attacks. Defendants argue that Plaintiffs cannot meet their burden to show which individuals were responsible for the attacks, that they were employees or agents of Defendants, that they acted within the scope of any employment by Defendants, or that they received any material support from Defendants causally related to the attacks. The information hereafter is from Plaintiffs' recitation of the facts, which they note are largely in dispute.[5]

The attacks at issue involve two shootings and five bombings. Plaintiffs contend that at least one PA " security" employee was involved in each of these attacks, and that Defendants provided material support to the attackers or to the terrorist groups backing the attacks, Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (" AAMB" ).

Plaintiffs claim that following these attacks, Defendants demonstrated support for those involved by, inter alia, keeping them on their payroll and promoting them after their convictions, declaring suicide terrorists " al-Aqsa Martrys," providing their families with cash payments, and glorifying the attackers through PA-owned and controlled media outlets. (Pl. 56.1, ECF No. 546, 113.)

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Summary judgment is appropriate " if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). " An issue of fact is 'genuine' if 'the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Gayle v. Gonyea, 313 F.3d 677, 682 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). A fact is material when " it 'might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'" Id.

The moving party has the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See Marvel Characters, Inc. v. Simon, 310 F.3d 280, 286 (2d Cir. 2002). In turn, to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must raise a genuine issue of material fact. To do so, it '" must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,'" Caldarola v. Calabrese, 298 F.3d 156, 160 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)),

Page 514

and it " may not rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation." Fujitsu Ltd. v. Fed. Express Corp., 247 F.3d 423, 428 (2d Cir. 2001) (citations and quotations omitted). Rather, the non-moving party must produce admissible evidence that supports its pleadings. See First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289-90, 88 S.Ct. 1575, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968). In this regard, " [t]he 'mere existence of a scintilla of evidence' supporting the non-movant's case is also insufficient to defeat summary judgment." Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. v. Jones Chem., Inc., 315 F.3d 171, 175 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).

In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all inferences in that party's favor. See Niagara Mohawk, 315 F.3d at 175. Accordingly, the court's task is not to " weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. Summary judgment is therefore inappropriate " if there is any evidence in the record that ...


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