Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization: Second Circuit, Applying Daimler and Walden, Rejects Personal Jurisdiction Over Palestinian Entities in Suit Brought by U.S. Citizens Killed or Wounded by Terrorist Attacks in Israel

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - September 1, 2016

The Second Circuit held yesterday in Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority in a suit charging them with responsibility for a series of terrorist attacks in Israel.  Applying the Supreme Court’s “at-home” test as articulated in Daimler, the appeals court held that the defendants’ maintenance of an office in Washington D.C. was insufficient to confer general personal jurisdiction on the federal courts.  As for specific personal jurisdiction, the court held that under Walden the relevant “suit-related conduct”—terrorist attacks in Israel—lacked a sufficient connection to the United States, was not “expressly aimed” at the United States, and was not connected to the activities of the defendants’ domestic office.  That some of the victims of the attacks were U.S. citizens was an “insufficient basis for specific jurisdiction.”  The Second Circuit vacated the judgment below and remanded to the district court with orders to dismiss the action.