Jesner v. Arab Bank

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: April 24, 2018
  • Case #: 16-499
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: KENNEDY, J., announced the judgment and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II-B-1, and II-C, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, ALITO, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II-A, II-B-2, II-B-3, and III, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., and GORSUCH, J., filed opinions concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

Liability under 28 U.S.C. § 1350, Alien Tort Statute (ATS), does not extend to foreign corporations.

Petitioners filed suit under the ATS for injuries and deaths resulting from terrorist acts abroad. Petitioners claimed that Respondent, a Jordanian Bank, facilitated these acts by maintaining bank accounts for terrorists, laundering money, and transferring funds to a New York branch thereby allowing terrorists access to the Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS). Both the district court and court of appeals dismissed Petitioners’ ATS claims, holding that the ATS did not extend jurisdiction to cases where “all relevant conduct took place outside the United States” unless the claims “touch and concern the territory of the United States . . . with sufficient force to displace” the presumption against extraterritoriality. Applying the two-part test established in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004) the Supreme Court first reasoned that the international community’s traditional exclusion of corporations from the jurisdiction of international tribunals established an international norm against imposing corporate liability. Second, the Court found that the ATS’s implication of foreign-policy concerns warranted deference to Congress. The Court concluded that Congress’s codification of the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) as a note following the ATS, excluding liability for corporations, reflected Congress’ intent to limit the scope of liability for alien tort claims. Accordingly, liability under the ATS does not extend to foreign corporations. AFFIRMED.

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