“Holocaust survivors, just like anyone else, should have the right to have their day in court to recover under their policies… It is not in the interests of the United States to deny survivors their legal rights.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, testifying in a prepared statement before the House Judiciary Committee today at a hearing on H.R. 4596, the “Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2010.” A global settlement of Holocaust-era insurance claims ended without payment to numerous victims, and the insurance industry is asserting federal preemption over any state court claims as a result of the settlement. The bill would block that preemption and enable Holocaust survivors to go to court and seek payment from those insurance policies purchased before or during World War II.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s bill has 37 co-sponsors as of today, including a number of Congressmen who inconsistently support federal preemption of state statutory and common law in other areas. For instance, many of them are on record supporting federal preemption in regulation of implantable medical devices, with corporate immunity against any state court suit involving such life-saving medical devices as artifical limbs and heart pacemakers, as well as brain shunts, chest catheters, and insulin pumps. It’s commendable that these Congressmen are so supportive of the 7th Amendment rights of Holocaust survivors. But they should also stand with heart patients who need a pacemaker, or children who need a brain shunt, and the Congressmen should recognize the inconsistency of supporting federal preemption in one instance one day, and opposing it the next day. As Rep. Ros-Lehtinen noted in her statement, federal preemption with immunity strips Americans of their 7th Amendment rights. It also empowers federal judges and regulators in Washington, instead of local juries, and should be opposed in all instances.