U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Holocaust Claim Case

June 22, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Holocaust survivors in the U.S. who claim they have been cheated out of a fair share of a $1.25 billion settlement over looted assets.

Justices had been asked to review a federal judge’s decision to split up the money in part based on need. Under the formula, survivors living in the former Soviet Union could get more money than those in California or Florida.

The appeal stems from a 1998 settlement between survivors and Swiss banks that were accused of stealing, concealing or sending to the Nazis hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Jewish holdings.

Miami attorney Samuel Dubbin told justices that the distribution formula for part of the settlement ignores the needs of as many as 45,000 poor U.S. Holocaust survivors. Survivors should have been treated equally, Dubbin said.

New York lawyer Burt Neuborne, the court-appointed representative for survivors worldwide, told justices that U.S. survivors have gotten more than their fair share. More than $875 million has been distributed to about 400,000 people, he said, including $190 million to people in the United States.

At issue in the appeal was the settlement to a group known as the Looted Assets Class. U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn set aside a greater percentage of money for destitute survivors living in the former Soviet Union.

The case is Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA v. Union Bank of Switzerland, 05-1275.

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