This bill would make it easier for terrorist attack survivors and their family members to sue foreign governments and officials (that sponsor or otherwise supported the attackers) in federal court.
Under current law, the Foreign Service Immunities Act (FSIA) gives foreign governments “sovereign immunity” from lawsuits filed in the U.S. under most circumstances — but this bill would change that law to exempt terrorist attacks carried out on U.S. soil thus allowing lawsuits to proceed.
Foreign governments and employees acting in an official capacity for them would no longer be able to use “sovereign immunity” as a defense against lawsuits seeking damages for acts of terrorism they helped facilitate. The new exceptions to the FSIA would include providing material or financial support to the attackers, or knowingly aiding and abetting them.
District courts would have jurisdiction over lawsuits filed against foreign governments in cases covered by this legislation after its enactment.
This legislation would retroactively apply to attacks that injured a person, property, or business on or after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and would be effective immediately upon enactment. It wouldn’t apply to U.S. government officials, and includes a severability clause that allows the remainder of this bill to remain intact if a portion of it is found to be invalid.