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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Oilmen Get no Relief Under Terrorism Law

HOUSTON (CN) - Oscar Wyatt Jr. and another Texas oilman accused of funding terrorism by bribing Saddam Hussein for oil cannot squeeze their own relief out of an anti-terrorism law, a federal judge ruled.

Wyatt and David Chalmers Jr. were among the defendants sued in response to three terrorist attacks in Israel in 2001 and 2002.

Nearly 200 plaintiffs identified themselves as victims of the attacks in the original complaint filed in the District of Columbia in 2009.

The oilmen and their companies violated the rules of the United Nations Oil for Food Program by paying kickbacks to Saddam's regime, while the regime used the money to support terrorists, the plaintiffs said in that complaint.

Five years later, Wyatt and Chalmers continue to face claims brought against them under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

In the meantime, the oilmen and their respective companies, NuCoastal Corp. and Bayoil (USA) Inc., have filed a complaint that points a finger at 62 parties that allegedly did business with the regime.

Their 2012 third-party complaint makes a single claim under the same act, contending that if the oilmen are liable, then so are the other numerous companies and individuals who paid Saddam.

However, the act does not allow defendants to go after third parties and demand that they help pay for damages, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled last week in Houston

Miller granted 33 motions to dismiss, agreeing that the oilmen do not have a legally cognizable claim.

"There is no dispute that the ATA does not contain an express right of action for contribution," Miller wrote, adding that the right is not clearly implied either.

The 9-page order concludes that the act exists for the benefit of victims of terrorism, not for those who violate the law.

Miller denied the oilmen a chance to amend their complaint, calling the process "futile" in their case.

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