This Article focuses on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's (FSIA) state-sponsored terrorism exception and roadblocks created by judicial rulings in this area. Through litigation, courts expanded the FSIA beyond Congress' intent to allow injured U.S. citizens to bring state law claims in federal court for damages resulting from a terrorist action supported by a foreign state. However, other courts took a restrictive approach, barring these claims. This shift led Congress to revise the FSIA to carry out its true intent.
There are three parts to this Article. Part I introduces the FSIA and its original exception for state-sponsored terrorism. It also addresses the trajectory that the FSIA's exception has made. Part II introduces two cases, Flatow v. Republic of Iran and Cicippio-Puelo v. Republic of Iran, which greatly impacted the expansion and narrowing of the state-sponsored terrorism exception. It further analyzes the issues created by these court rulings and the switch to Congress' intended purpose under the FSIA original statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7). Part III introduces and analyzes Leibovitch v. Republic of Iran, which illustrates when a U.S. federal court will find subject-matter jurisdiction and how the court applies the state-sponsored terrorist exception. Finally, this Article proposes that the Seventh Circuit correctly held that the court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the Leibovitch family's claim, allowing the family to bring a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against the Palestine Islamic Jihad.
The state-sponsored terrorism exception is extremely important for U.S. families traveling overseas in foreign countries that have been labeled supporters of terrorist organizations. Because of the FSIA's history and Congress' express revision of the state-sponsored terrorism exception, roadblocks have been dismantled and the FSIA now allows injured or deceased U.S. victims' families relief in U.S. courts. Congress' enactment of § 1605A(a)(7) exemplifies a dedication to its citizens and portrays a no-nonsense attitude toward foreign states that support terrorist actions.
Sivonnia L. Hunt,
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act: The Roadblocks to Recovery,
Seventh Circuit Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/seventhcircuitreview/vol8/iss2/8