WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The US Supreme Court on October 31 declined to hear Turkey’s bid to dismiss two lawsuits filed by demonstrators seeking monetary damages after accusing Turkish security forces of injuring them in a 2017 protest in Washington during a visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The justices turned away an appeal by Turkey of lower court rulings allowing the litigation to proceed, rejecting the NATO ally’s argument that it has immunity from such legal action in the United States under a federal law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
At issue in the litigation is a melee involving members of Erdogan’s security detail that occurred as protesters demonstrated outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington on May 6, 2017. Erdogan was in the US capital to meet then-President Donald Trump. The incident strained relations between Turkey and the United States.
Two lawsuits were filed in 2018 — one case brought by 15 plaintiffs and the other by five — seeking to hold Turkey’s government responsible and asking for monetary damages for injuries that included concussions, seizures and lost teeth. The plaintiffs sought tens of millions of dollars, according to court papers.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act limits the jurisdiction of American courts over lawsuits against foreign governments.
Andreas Akaras, a lawyer for some of the demonstrators, said in a statement that he and his colleagues “look forward to holding Turkey accountable in a court of law for its terrorizing attack against our clients.”