International & Human Rights

Holocaust Era Bank and Insurance Companies Class Action Lawsuit

Issue: International Litigation
Result: $1.25 billion settlement

Lieff Cabraser was one of the leading firms that prosecuted claims by Holocaust survivors and the heirs of Holocaust survivors and victims against banks, private manufacturers and other corporations who enslaved and/or looted the assets of Jews and other minority groups persecuted by the Nazi Regime during the Second World War era. We served as Settlement Class Counsel in the case against the Swiss banks in which the Court approved a U.S. $1.25 billion settlement in July 2000.

Lieff Cabraser donated its attorneys’ fees in the Swiss Banks case, in the amount of $1.5 million, to endow a Human Rights clinical chair at Columbia University Law School. We were also active in slave labor and property litigation against German and Austrian defendants, and Nazi-era banking litigation against French banks. In connection therewith, Lieff Cabraser participated in multi-national negotiations that led to Executive Agreements establishing an additional approximately U.S. $5 billion in funds for survivors and victims of Nazi persecution.

Commenting on the work of Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel in the litigation against private German corporations, entitled In re Holocaust Era German Industry, Bank & Insurance Litigation (MDL No. 1337), U.S. District Court Judge William G. Bassler stated on November 13, 2002:

Up until this litigation, as far as I can tell, perhaps with some minor exceptions, the claims of slave and forced labor fell on deaf ears. You can say what you want to say about class actions and about attorneys, but the fact of the matter is, there was no attention to this very, very large group of people by Germany, or by German industry until these cases were filed…. What has been accomplished here with the efforts of the plaintiffs’ attorneys and defense counsel is quite incredible… I want to thank counsel for the assistance in bringing us to where we are today. Cases don’t get settled just by litigants. It can only be settled by competent, patient attorneys.