WASHINGTON (CN) – Representatives for some Puerto Rican victims of the 1972 Lod Airport Massacre in Tel Aviv lost their latest demand to stay and transfer a case against the attorney who, on their behalf, helped force Libya to establish a $1.8 billion victims relief fund.
On May 30, 1972, three members of the Japanese Red Army used submachine guns and grenades to fire into a crowd of airline passengers at Israel’s Lod International Airport, now known as Ben Gurion International Airport. Puerto Rican tourists waiting for their baggage to begin a pilgrimage were among the 24 fatalities and 78 injured.
Attorney Joshua Ambush ultimately helped the American Center for Civil Justice (ACCJ) obtain a $1.8 billion fund from Libya for the victims and their families, but a dispute arose as to whether Ambush could claim a portion of the $12 million in legal fees or just his hourly wage.
The nonprofit also accused Ambush of improperly inducing Puerto Rican wrongful-death claimants to revoke the powers of attorney they had granted to ACCJ.
In March, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson denied the organization’s motion to stay the case or transfer it to U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, “concluding that ACCJ identified no ground warranting that this case be stayed and that ACCJ had failed to carry its burden to show that a transfer was warranted.”
ACCJ objected to the decision, but U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman affirmed Friday.
The judge ordered that the parties shall either proceed to mediation before a magistrate judge or begin the second phase of discovery, and must make their decision by July 15.