U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing tomorrow titled "Righting the Enduring Wrongs of the Holocaust: Insurance Accountability and Rail Justice." The hearing will allow members to discuss two separate issues: unpaid Holocaust-era insurance policies, and survivors' ability to bring suit against the French rail company Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français (SNCF). Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"This hearing will address two injustices that should have been resolved long ago. Holocaust survivors have been barred from their day in court for far too long, and I am sad to say that many survivors do not have much time left to appeal for justice.
"Our legislation does not pre-judge the outcome of any legal action. Instead, our bills affirm survivors' rights, as American citizens, to bring these matters before a court of law and receive the fair treatment that they were denied decades ago in Nazi Germany. The hearing will allow us to hear the survivors' tragic and courageous stories, and provide greater understanding of why action on this legislation is imperative and urgent."
NOTE: Tomorrow, the Committee will discuss H.R. 890, the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2011, which was authored by Ros-Lehtinen with her Florida colleague Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) . This bipartisan measure would allow survivors to avail themselves of state laws passed to allow them to have their day in court and to require European insurance companies conducting business in those states to disclose Nazi-era insurance policy information. The measure also establishes a federal right of action to recover proceeds due under the covered policies.
The Committee will also discuss H.R. 1193, the Holocaust Rail Justice Act. The bill is authored by U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and will prevent foreign sovereign immunity from being raised as a defense by the French rail company SNCF in a class action law suit brought against them by Holocaust survivors. The suit alleges that SNCF operated trains for profit that transported more than 75,000 innocent victims to concentration camps during the Holocaust.