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CONSUMERS: 2001 PRESS RELEASE

For Release: February 7, 2001

NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS ISSUES RULING ON THE HOLOCAUST VICTIM INSURANCE RELIEF ACT

SACRAMENTO -- The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that the Holocaust Victim Insurance Relief Act does not violate the foreign affairs power of the United States Government or the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. That law requires insurance companies doing business in the State of California to provide information to the Insurance Commissioner regarding Holocaust-era insurance policies they or their affiliate companies issued in Europe between 1920 and 1945.

In issuing its ruling, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the district court had erred as a matter of law in finding that the insurance companies had established a likelihood of success on their foreign affairs power and Commerce Clause claims. The appeals court found that the California statute does not regulate foreign insurance policies or control the conduct of foreign insurance companies. It also found that the United States Congress has acquiesced in state laws like California’s statute.

The appeals court left in place a preliminary injunction that the district court had entered in order to give the lower court an opportunity to consider whether the insurance companies were likely to succeed on the merits of other challenges that they are making. Insurance Commissioner Harry Low stated that he was "gratified by the Court’s decision and hoped that the insurance companies would provide to Holocaust survivors the information about Holocaust-era insurance policies that the Statute requires."

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