NEW YORK — A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a 2014 jury verdict that found Jordan-based Arab Bank liable for Hamas suicide bombings that killed and wounded Americans, triggering an already reached settlement between the bank and the victims in the closely watched case.
The ruling by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals found a lower-court judge gave faulty instructions to the jury and normally would have set the stage for a retrial, but the litigants negotiated how to settle the case under terms dictated by how the appeals court ruled.
The terms were undisclosed, but it was believed the decision rejecting the verdict means that the bank will make lower payouts to American victims of the deadly wave of Hamas attacks in Israel in the early 2000s.
Plaintiffs’ lawyer Gary Osen said the plaintiffs would have liked “a sweeping victory” but were still “very satisfied” with the result.
“The plaintiffs will receive meaningful and very substantial compensation for their injuries, and today’s decision doesn’t diminish the fact a jury found Arab Bank liable for knowingly supporting Hamas,” Osen said.
Arab Bank said in a statement it was thankful the ruling brings the case to a close, adding it “continues to believe that the District Court’s errors at trial all but dictated an adverse outcome.”
The victims had sued the international bank, which has several branches in Gaza and the West Bank, in 2004. At a 2014 trial, the jury heard Hamas experts and other plaintiff witnesses try to link extremists to Arab Bank accounts and detail how cash payments were funneled through the bank and into the hands of the families of suicide bombers.
It marked the first time a bank had faced a trial under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows victims of US-designated foreign terrorist organizations to seek compensation.
The US Department of State designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997.
The first trial found Arab Bank liable on 24 counts of supporting terrorism by transferring funds to Hamas.