News 02 Oct 17

US Court Dismisses Croatian WWII Victims’ Lawsuit

A court in Chicago dismissed WWII victims’ relatives’ lawsuit against Croatia, a case marred by allegations of identity theft, after the plaintiffs’ lawyer failed to appear in court.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Ustasa taking Serbs to execution in 1942. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The district court in Chicago has dismissed the case of Lisabeth Lalich et al. against Croatia after their US lawyer, Anthony D’Amato, failed to appear in court.

Presiding judge Jorge L. Alonso dismissed the case on Thursday because D’Amato failed to make contact “to arrange to be present for the status hearing by telephone” by September 25 – the deadline given by the judge at the last hearing on August 31.

The plaintiffs were demanding 3.2 billion euros in compensation from Croatia for seized property, as well as for the suffering of their relatives inflicted during World War II by the Nazi-aligned puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia, NDH, which was led by the fascist Ustasa movement, Croatian newspaper Vecernji list reported in March.

The suit was filed in May 2016 by descendants of Croatian Serbs, Jews and Roma - Lizabeth Lalich, Mladen Djuricich, Robert Predrag Gakovich, Veljko Miljus, Bogdan Kljaic, David Levy and Daniel Pyevich - according to the newspaper.

However, another US lawyer, Jonathan Levy, representing Lalich, Kljajic and Pyevich, has alleged that the lawsuit was filed without their consent, implying that their identities were stolen.

Levy told BIRN that despite the court’s dismissal of the case, he will pursue his own case against D’Amato until the New York City Bar Association disbars the lawyer for launching an allegedly fraudulent lawsuit and for identity theft.

D’Amato issued a similar lawsuit against Hungary last year, in the name of the Hungarian Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

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