Holocaust survivors lost a long-shot appeal
against the Catholic Franciscan Order in a federal appeals court Thursday. The case stems from a long-running suit seeking to recover money for the alleged systematic looting of survivors’ property by the Nazi puppet government in the former Yugoslavia, the Ustasha Regime.
The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a San Francisco trial judge’s decision to dismiss the suit by Emil Alperin and others against the Order of Friars Minor, the formal name for the Franciscans.
The case stems from a suit brought originally against the Vatican a dozen years ago that sought damages for alleged human rights violations. It accused the Vatican and Franciscans of aiding the Ustasha Regime during World War II.
In 2003 the trial judge threw out the human rights claims and in 2005 the Ninth Circuit agreed but returned the case to the judge to settle “garden-variety” claims for recovery of the allegedly looted property.
Alperin argued that after the war, the only remaining defendant in the case, the Franciscans, aided the Ustasha Regime’s crimes and should be held to account. But U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney dismissed the claim saying the court lacked jurisdiction to rule even under a 200-year-old law designed to protect against foreign rights violations.
The three-judge Ninth Circuit panel agreed March 17, 2011. The panel included Judges Mary Schroeder and Sidney Thomas and visiting Wisconsin federal judge Lynn S. Adelman.
Case Alperin v. Franciscan Order, No. 09-17761