Sokolow Litigation

Sokolow et al. v. Palestine Liberation Organization et al., 04-CV-00397 (S.D.N.Y, filed 16 Jan 2004).

Lawsuit seeking up to $3 billion in damages by victims and their families for death and injury resulting from suicide bombings and shooting attacks perpetrated by operatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA), between January 2001 and February 2004. The case, first filed in 2004, has been up and down the federal courts, including twice in the U.S. Supreme Court. A jury, after trial in 2015, awarded $218.5 million in damages, trebled by the Court in accordance with the law. However, the Second Circuit reversed on jurisdictional grounds. Subsequently, the Supreme Court remanded for further consideration in light of the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019.  Most recently, the District Court has ruled that the statute applies to the case but that it is unconstitutional. Further appeal may be taken by the plaintiffs.

The litigation is not yet at an end, but what will stand unchallenged is the historic, unanimous verdict by a twelve-member jury, after trial, that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO have orchestrated numerous terror attacks against innocent civilians in Israel, resulting in death and severe injury.


  • Docket – Southern District of New York, 04-cv-00397
  • Docket – Southern District of New York, 18-cv-12213
  • Docket – Second Circuit Court of Appeals, 15-3135
  • Docket – Second Circuit Court of Appeals, 15-3151
  • Docket – U.S. Supreme Court, 16-1071
  • Docket – U.S. Supreme Court, 19-764
2004

16 Jan 2004

Plaintiffs file Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

2005

23 May 2005

2008

30 Sep 2008

Court issues Memorandum Decision and Order denying defendants’ motion to dismiss (based on subject matter and personal jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim).

2011

30 Mar 2011

Court issues Memorandum Decision and Opinion denying defendants’ new motion to dismiss (personal jurisdiction).

2014

16 Jun 2014

Court issues Order denying defendants’ motion to reconsider denial of its earlier motion to dismiss (personal jurisdiction).

19 Nov 2014

Court issues Order denying in part and granting in part defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

1 Dec 2014

Court issues Memorandum Decision and Order denying defendants’ motions for summary judgment and dismissal (personal jurisdiction).

2015

14 Jan to 23 Feb 2015

Jury trial begins with opening statements presented on January 14, 2015. On February 23, at conclusion of the trial, the Manhattan jury found the Palestinian Authority and the PLO responsible for supporting the terror attacks, awarding the plaintiffs $218.5 million in damages.

24 Aug 2015

Court issues Order denying defendants’ post-trial motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, or alternatively, for judgment as a matter of law or new trial.

1 Oct 2015

The Court issues Judgment against defendants in the amount of the total jury verdict of $218.5 million, trebled automatically pursuant to the Antiterrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a), for a total award of $655.5 million.

2016

31 Aug 2016

Second Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the ruling of the District Court, finding a lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendants, and remanding to the District Court with instructions to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

2018

3 Oct 2018

Enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-253).  The Act amended federal criminal law by, among other things, allowing federal courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over a foreign non-state defendant that accepts benefits from the United States (e.g., foreign assistance).  In response, the Palestinian Authority renounces all financial assistance from the United States in order to avoid liability for US court decisions demanding millions in payment for terrorist attacks.

27 Dec 2018

Plaintiffs commence a parallel lawsuit involving the same terror attacks in Israel, filing their complaint in the District Court.  The case was stayed and placed on the suspense docket on 16 Sep 2019.

2019

3 Jun 2019

Second Circuit Court of Appeals denies plaintiffs’ motion to recall the mandate it issued, holding again that the federal courts lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants.

20 Dec 2019

Enactment of the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (§ 903 of P.L. 116-94). This law expanded federal court jurisdiction over the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in civil claims by Americans injured or killed by international acts of terrorism that were sponsored by the PA or the PLO.  As stated by co-sponsors of the law in their amici brief, it was enacted in direct response to court rulings—including the one by the court of appeals in the Sokolow case.

2020

27 Apr 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court, in response to plaintiffs’ new Petition for Certiorari, remands the case to the Court of Appeals for further consideration in light of the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019.

8 Sep 2020

The Court of Appeals, following instructions from the Supreme Court, issues a Mandate remanding the case to the District Court for the limited purposes of determining (1) the applicability of the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 to the case, and (2), if the Act is determined to apply, any issues regarding its application to the case including its constitutionality.

2022

10 Mar 2022

The District Court issues a Memorandum Decision and Order concluding that the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 is applicable to the case, but that the statute is unconstitutional.

24 Mar 2022

The District Court having rendered its decision, the Court of Appeals issues an Order recalling the mandate and reinstating the appeal.


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