Bill allowing Holocaust survivors to sue insurers in U.S. courts is reintroduced

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A perennial bipartisan bill that would allow Holocaust survivors to sue insurance companies in U.S. courts was reintroduced.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who has in the past sponsored multiple versions of the bill, was joined by Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Calif. and John Garamendi, D-Calif., in introducing the bill on Tuesday.

Holocaust survivor groups generally favor the legislation, while insurers have in the past been joined by some national Jewish groups in opposing it.

“I am pleased to once again be joined by Brad and John in reintroducing this bill that will finally allow survivors the ability to bring their cases before the U.S. court system and seek redress from the insurance companies that continue to shirk their moral and legal responsibilities,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Florida’s two senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio.

Opponents of the previous efforts to pass similar legislation have said that the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims process may still consider claims despite being shuttered in 2007. The commission had been set up a decade earlier after revelations that European insurance companies had in some cases gone to great lengths not to pay out meritorious claims.

Backers of the legislation say that the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims process was inadequate and allowed the insurance companies too much leeway to reject claims.

Successive administrations have opposed the legislation; it is not yet clear whether and how the Trump administration would weigh in.