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Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC

United States Supreme Court
584 U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 1386, 200 L.Ed.2d 612 (2018)


In 2003, Joseph Jesner and others (plaintiffs) who either suffered injuries or lost family members in terrorist attacks abroad sued a multinational Jordanian bank for allegedly enabling the attacks by laundering terrorists’ money. Arab Bank, PLC’s (defendant) New York branch cleared transactions in United States dollars that allegedly benefitted terrorist groups. The lawsuit claimed that those acts qualified as a tort that violates the law of nations under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The trial court dismissed on the ground that the ATS creates a cause of action against individuals only, not corporations. Due to a split in controlling circuit court precedent, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide the question some 13 years after the lawsuit’s initiation. Meanwhile, the pending lawsuit caused significant tension in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Jordan.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Dissent (Sotomayor, J.)

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