Rein v. Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

162 F.3d 748 (1998)

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Rein v. Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
162 F.3d 748 (1998)

Facts

In December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all on board. Libya was blamed. In 1994, representatives and survivors of victims killed in the crash sued various Libyan entities (collectively, Libya) (defendants) for wrongful death, personal injury, and other claims in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter and personal jurisdiction based on sovereign immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), and the dismissal was upheld on appeal. In 1996, Congress passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). The AEDPA modified the FSIA to provide that state sponsors of terrorism were not entitled to sovereign immunity for wrongful death or personal injury arising from, among other things, aircraft sabotage. Before the passage of the AEDPA, Libya had already been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. Denice Rein and some other representatives from the original case (plaintiffs) refiled the wrongful-death and personal-injury claims. Libya again moved to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds, claiming that the changes to the FSIA were unconstitutional because the decision to abrogate Libya’s sovereign immunity had been improperly delegated by Congress to an agency. The court denied the motion based on the AEDPA’s change of the statutory law on sovereign immunity. Libya appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Calabresi, J.)

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