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New Law Allows Victims of Terrorism to Sue for Damages

July 19th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
A new Florida law gives victims of terrorism and their families the ability to seek reparations in court.
Legislative support was overwhelming, but the new policy does raise some questions.
Victims of terrorism have always been able to seek damages for injuries they suffered.
Bu the new law that took effect July first, allows victims to specifically sue on the basis of being a victim of terror.
The law creates a civil cause of action for a person injured by an act of terrorism.
Victims are entitled to attorney’s fees and a minimum of $1,000 in damages.
Civil Trial Lawyer Harry Graham says the addition of attorney fees gives the law teeth.
“It’s an incentive for attorneys to take the case to bring justice to their clients and it’s also an incentive for the defendant to settle the case,” said Graham.
The law comes a year after the Pulse Night Club Shooting, which claimed 49 lives.
It’s designed not only as a way to help victims, but also deter terrorism.
Terrorism has a broad definition in the State of Florida, raising the question of what cases the law will apply to.
Mark Schlakman with the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University says anytime a new law related to terrorism goes into effect the question of how to appropriately narrow the definition of terrorism is raised.
“Lone actors, who whether they’re mentally imbalanced or not, acting on their own initiative, how should we characterize that? And what are the implications in terms of law enforcement and prevention of terrorist acts,” said Schlakman.
Attorney Graham expects people to test the waters with this law, but he points out there are penalties included in the law for someone who frivolously sues another for terrorism.
“They have allowed for the defendants to recover attorney’s fees and costs if the case is deemed frivolous,” said Graham.
Although Graham believes the new law wont be used often, he says when it is properly invoked it will have more teeth than previous options available to victims.
Victims have up to 5 years to file suit, but the timeline can be extended by two years if a prosecution is ongoing.

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