District Court Concludes That the PLO and the Palestinian Authority Should Be Considered “At Home” in the U.S. for Purposes of Asserting General Personal Jurisdiction Over Them

The World in U.S. Courts: Winter 2015 - Personal Jurisdiction

Sokolow v. The Palestinian Liberation Organization, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, December 1, 2014

In 2004, defendants Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were sued in federal Court in New York by plaintiffs alleging violations of the ATS in connection with injuries they suffered as a resulting of bombings in Israel. In 2011, the U.S. District Court in New York ruled that it had general personal jurisdiction over the PLO and the PA based upon their “systematic and continuous contacts and activities with the United States,” and in light of the strong U.S. policy to have ATS claims litigated in the U.S. and the absence of an alternative forum. The defendants renewed their motion in light of the 2014 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Daimler AG v. Bauman, which stated in the context of a claim under state law that general personal jurisdiction should be limited to situations in which an entity is essentially “at home” in the jurisdiction. In the case of a corporation, that test is satisfied in all but “exceptional cases” in the state where the entity is incorporated or has its principal place of business.

The Court noted that the PA had identified as a place where it might be “at home” the “Palestinian Territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," and that the PLO had identified no region. It thus concluded that the defendants had failed to establish that the U.S. was not an appropriate forum for the litigation. The Court also conducted a “comity analysis” and concluded that the assertion of personal jurisdiction over the defendants did not conflict with any non-U.S. country’s “applicable law or national interests.

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