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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

PLO Terrorism Document Ordered to Destruction

WASHINGTON (CN) - Documents inadvertently produced to the attorneys for the victims of a West Bank must be destroyed, a federal judge ruled.

The minute order comes in a decade-old case filed after U.S. citizens were killed and injured, in the Feb. 16, 2002, suicide bombing of a West Bank pizza parlor.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, claimed credit for the bombing, according to the complaint led by the Shatsky family, who lost their 14-year-old daughter Keren in the attack.

They obtained a default judgment against the PLO, but U.S. District Judge Richard Leon vacated the judgment after declaring that the PLO was "truly committed" to litigation.

In October 2012, the Palestinian Authority told the court that the defense had inadvertently released privileged documents to the plaintiffs' attorneys while preparing for a Sept. 12, 2012, deposition. The documents contained information protected by attorney-client privilege and attorney work product, including the deposition of a Palestinian Authority designee, Ibrahim Dahbour.

Attorneys for the PA moved to have the documents destroyed or returned, and to provide them with a list of anyone who saw the documents.

"This motion seeks relief related to an inadvertent production of a privileged document during the midst of a busy schedule of depositions in the Middle East during September 2012," according to the filing authored by the authority's Washington attorney, Richard Hibley with Miller & Chevalier Chartered.

"In defendants' view, plaintiffs took unfair advantage of this inadvertent production at the time it was made, because the nature of the privileged document was apparent," Hibley added. "However, in any event, upon being directly advised of the inadvertent production, plaintiffs have refused to abide by their obligations in such a situation, have apparently failed to destroy or property sequester their copies of the document, and have continued to rely on its contents in communications with defense counsel on other discovery issues."

Judge Leon granted the motion in a minute order.

The original complaint against the PLO and the Palestinian Authority also listed the Syrian Arab Republic and various Syrian entities as defendants, but the plaintiffs dismissed their case against Syria and filed a related case against the country.

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