A Jewish man injured in a February 2002 terrorist attack could get up to 48 million dollars now that a federal jury has awarded damages in his lawsuit.
He said the attack was backed by the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization.
After the Palestinian defendants defaulted by not defending themselves, a federal jury heard evidence this week in the case and returned a verdict today of USD 16 million.
But under a law permitting US citizens to sue organizations involved in overseas terrorism, that amount will likely be tripled to USD 48 million.
The man who filed the lawsuit, Moshe Saperstein, has dual US and Israeli citizenship.
According to court documents, Saperstein was attacked by gunmen who sprayed his car with AK47 rounds, wounding him in the hand.
An Israeli citizen traveling in a separate car, lawyer Ahuva Amergi, died in the attack, as did two Israeli soldiers who responded to the gunfire.
``Justice is served,'' said Saperstein's wife, Rachel Saperstein. ``Now, the fight begins.''
The Sapersteins' attorney, Robert Josefsberg, said he will work to identify potential Palestinian assets in the United States, Israel and elsewhere to satisfy the judgment.
``We're going to just look at every possibility,'' Josefsberg said.
Lawyers for the Palestinian organizations did contest the lawsuit on procedural grounds - including a claim that the Palestinian Authority and PLO were immune as a sovereign state - but withdrew after losing those rounds, leading to the default judgment.
One of those lawyers was former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Attempts to reach Clark and his partner, Lawrence W. Schilling, by telephone Wednesday were not successful.
A PLO spokesman in Washington, Nabil Abuznaid, said there are about 10 other similar lawsuits pending in the United States. Abuznaid said the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a war that should not be fought in American courtrooms.
``It's unfair and unfortunate. These are political situations and they should not come with judgments like that. These are situations outside this country in a war,'' said Abuznaid, deputy chief of the PLO mission in Washington.