Abu Nahl v. Abou Jaoude, No. 19-1467 (2d Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit as shareholders on behalf of Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB), alleging that defendants used LCB to facilitate a money-laundering scheme benefiting Hezbollah. Plaintiffs contend that defendants' conduct violated an actionable norm of international law that confers a cause of action on them over which the federal courts have jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The district court held that the prohibition against financing terrorism is a universal, specific, and obligatory norm of international law, and allowed plaintiffs to proceed with their suit.
The Second Circuit reversed and held that plaintiffs' effort to amend their complaint is futile, because – even if "financing terrorism" violates a universal, specific, and obligatory norm of international law – their cause of action is based on harm that falls outside the scope of any such norm. In this case, plaintiffs' economic harm is disconnected from the risks that would bring the financing of terrorism within the purview of international law, and the ATS does not confer federal jurisdiction over the alleged violations of corporate law principles that ground plaintiffs' claim. The court remanded for further proceedings.