US Appeals Court Overturns District Court Order that Faulted Terror Victim for Attack

On June 8, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that a district court judge erred in reducing the amount of damages awarded to the family of an American/Israeli teenager kidnapped and murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The ruling was based upon the judge’s assertion that the victim, and his family, assumed the risk of being injured by choosing to reside in the West Bank. The Court of Appeals vacated the district judge’s order, and directed the judge to award a full measure of damages to the family, without assigning any blame for the attack on the victim or his family. The case was brought by the family of 16-year-old Naftali Fraenkel, who was kidnapped and murdered together with Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Sha’er by Hamas terrorists in June 2014. The attack occurred outside Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem. In 2017, District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that Fraenkel family should receive a lower-than-usual damages award against Iran and Syria for those countries’ role in facilitating Hamas’ terror attacks, since the family “knew” that Hamas targeted Jews for attacks. The Court of Appeals denounced Judge Collyer’s reasoning as “blaming the victim,” and sent the case back to the lower court to recalculate the damages award.