Accountability

Published — November 1, 2010 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Lawyer tries again to get U.S. Supreme Court to hear Holocaust-related suit

Introduction

A lawyer is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a second time to hear a case related to a federal block on Holocaust victims’ families suing European insurance companies for unpaid claims on policies bought before World War II.

Thomas Weiss, a Florida-based opthamalogist, wants to sue the Italian insurance company Assicurazoni Generali to redeem policies his father purchased in 1937. His family hasn’t been able to collect on any of the policies.

The Department of Justice has advised U.S. courts that foreign policy requires such cases be resolved through non-adversarial agencies set up to process Holocaust-era disputes.

However, Weiss’s attorney, Sam Dubbin, received documents in a Freedom of Information Act request this summer revealing that internally, high-ranking Justice Department officials questioned the legality of that position. The Center for Public Integrity last month reported that the department demanded some of the documents returned, saying they were released in a FOIA by mistake.

The Supreme Court said last month that it would not hear the Weiss case. But since then, Dubbin says three circuit courts of appeal have handed down separate decisions bolstering his case and the high court has asked the Justice Department’s Solicitor General to weigh in on a case with overlapping legal issues.

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