June 26, 2024

Pharma companies can fight terrorism-funding lawsuit in US Supreme Court

A unique case coming before the Supreme Court saw the court overturn a ruling, allowing a company to once again try to defend themselves.

A appeal brought by 21 pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies, lead by AstraZeneca, was heard by the court due to a lawsuit accusing them of illegally assisting to fund terrorism, as Reuters reported.

The suit asserts that the companies actions resulted in the deaths or injuries of hundreds of American troops and civilians in Iraq was given a boost by the Supreme Court of the United States on Monday.

Case History

The verdict of a lower court that had revived a lawsuit that had been brought by citizens and military personnel who claimed that they had been harmed during the Iraq war between the years 2005 and 2011 was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The complaint, which was filed in 2017 in a federal court in Washington, seeks damages (which are currently unspecified) under the Anti-Terrorism Act. That act is a federal legislation that allows Americans to pursue claims linked to "an act of international terrorism."

A request was made by the justices to the lower court to reexamine the case and potentially overthrow the lower court's ruling.

Hundreds of American servicemen, civilians, and their families filed a lawsuit against the defendant firms, which are members of five corporate families: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, GE Healthcare USA, Johnson & Johnson, and F. Hoffmann-La Roche.

The Accusations

The plaintiffs accused major pharmaceutical and device manufacturers from the United States and Europe of delivering corrupt payments to the Hezbollah-sponsored paramilitary group Jaysh al-Mahdi for the purpose of obtaining medical supply contracts from Iraq's health ministry.

The plaintiffs also accused these companies of providing payments beneficial to terror groups. Those who filed the lawsuit claimed that the militia group was in charge of the health ministry.

The lawsuit was first dismissed by a federal trial court in the year 2020; but, in the year 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overruled that judgment and allowed the case to proceed.

Corporate Response

The corporations have stated that they "are not responsible in any way for the tragic events that were caused and carried out by Iraqi militia groups." They have denied any wrongdoing and stated that they have expressed their denial.

On Monday, the pharmaceutical and device companies issued a joint statement in which they expressed their appreciation for the decision made by the Supreme Court.

The companies went on to say that they believe the Supreme Court should go on to dismiss the case, citing a social media case ruling from last year that they assert had similar legal implications.

"The companies continue to vigorously dispute the plaintiffs' allegations in this case and are not responsible in any way for the tragic events that were caused and carried out by Iraqi militia groups," according to the official statement.

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