Mohamad v. Rajoub
October 17, 2011
Case #: 11-88
Court Below: 634 F.3d 604 (DC Cir. 2011)
Full Text Opinion: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-dc-circuit/1560163.html
Corporations: (Whether the Torture Victim Protection Act includes corporations or organizations as possible defendants.)During a visit to the West Bank in 1995, Azzam Rahim was taken into custody by several men who identified themselves as security police. The men took Rahim, a U.S. citizen, to a prison where he was tortured and eventually killed. A report issued by the U.S. State Department in 1996 stated that Rahim died while in the custody of Palestinian Authority intelligence officers. Rahim’s widow and sons, Petitioners, filed suit against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, claiming Rahim was killed in violation of the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) and federal common law.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a default judgment against Respondents in 2007. Following a motion by Respondents to vacate the judgment and to dismiss the claim for lack of personal jurisdiction, the court granted Petitioners’ motion to transfer the case to the District Court for the District of Columbia. The District Court for D.C. set aside the entry of default and dismissed the case, finding that Petitioners had no cause of action under either the TVPA or federal common law. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed, holding that only an individual can be found liable under the TVPA, excluding organizations or corporations as defendants.