The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said on Tuesday that the US District Court for the District of Columbia could not hear a lawsuit by the families of American victims of of a 2002 suicide bombing. The circuit court found that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction.
The families of American victims of a 2002 suicide bombing in Palestine brought suit in 2002 under the Anti-Terrorism Act against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian National Authority. The families alleged Popular Front orchestrated the bombing and that the National Authority enabled the bombing through support to the Popular Front.
The Popular Front and the National Authority argued in 2003 that they lacked the minimum contacts with the US that are required by the Due Process Clause, as their only contacts were the activities of Palestine’s Mission to the UN and its ambassador in New York. However, in 2004, the district court denied their motions to dismiss. The case spent 15 years in district court due to procedural difficulties. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment in 2017, but the plaintiffs appealed the decision.
On Tuesday, the circuit court held that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants. The district court also did not have general jurisdiction over the defendants because neither was “at home” in DC. The circuit court found that the district court abused its discretion in holding that the Palestinian Defendants forfeited their objection to the exercise of personal jurisdiction.
The court vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the
case without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction.