June 21, 2016
Finalists for Public Justice’s 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award
Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C. is pleased to announce that two of its shareholders, Steven M. Steingard and Stephen H. Schwartz, have been selected as finalists for Public Justice’s 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. Public Justice is a group of dedicated public interest advocates, which teams with private attorneys around the country to fight injustice and preserve access to the courts for ordinary people. The award, which celebrates and recognizes the work of an attorney or team of attorneys working on behalf of individuals and groups that have suffered injustice and harmful abuse, will be presented at the organization’s Annual Gala and Awards Dinner on Sunday, July 24 in Los Angeles. Steingard and Schwartz were members of a team of attorneys who are being cited for their work on Linde v. Arab Bank. The citation reads as follows:
The Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 1992 allows people who were injured by acts of terror abroad to bring civil suits in federal court. Linde was a mass tort consolidation case with 117 plaintiffs who were injured in suicide bombings and attacks in Israel, 40 wrongful death cases, along with 440 family members of those injured or killed. The plaintiffs claimed that Arab Bank knowingly provided financial support to terrorist leaders and the families of terrorist operatives, including suicide bombers. This case marks the first time that a financial institution has been brought to trial – and held liable –under the ATA.
The plaintiffs argued that Arab Bank administered a Saudi-funded universal insurance plan for the benefit of Palestinian terrorists killed, injured, or apprehended by Israeli security forces. For years, branches of the Saudi charity authorized payments ranging from $140 to $5,316 to terrorists and their families. The plaintiffs also argued that Arab Bank should be held liable for every terrorist act committed since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada, a period of escalated Israeli-Palestinian conflict that began in 2000, because the charity provided its clients with financial benefits regardless of whether they were affiliated with terrorist groups.
Although the Linde case was successful, it took over a decade before the team was able to bring the case to trial. The team overcame many hurdles and even secured sanction against Arab Bank and its defense counsel.
The parties reached a confidential settlement agreement in August of 2015. The lawsuits were aimed at curtailing the flow of money to terrorist organizations by extending the legal liability beyond terrorists themselves to the financial institutions that aid their actions. The outcome of this trial will undoubtedly encourage stronger consequences for corporations that promote terrorism and violate human rights.