Andrew C. Hall fights for the rights of victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
By Ian Fisher
In 1992, Andrew C. Hall (JD 68) heard a horriﬁc story about a stranger, also named Hall, who endured the unthinkable.
Chad Hall, an American working as a contractor, was beaten and tortured after being kidnapped from Kuwaiti territory at gunpoint by Iraqi guards. One of the Iraqis, as Hall told the New York Times, “put the clip in the pistol and chambered in a round and said, ‘Well, I have the authority to shoot you if I have to, to take you with me.’ ”
A retired Army major, Hall was an expert in munitions, and the Iraqis wanted his valuable knowledge.
They did almost anything to get it.
The Iraqis confined Hall to a small prison cell with no lights, window, water or toilet. He was frequently denied food and water and had only limited access to toilet facilities. He was interrogated, accused of espionage, and physically tortured. At one point, the Iraqis blindfolded him and told him they would shoot him if he didn’t reveal information. When he refused, they cocked their weapons, gave the “Fire!” command, and dry-fired their weapons at him.
Hall was sure he would die in his cramped, ﬁlthy jail cell somewhere in the Iraqi desert.
ENTER ANDREW HALL
After ﬁve days of torture, Chad Hall was released. He returned to his hometown of Houston and saw his family lawyer, who called Andrew Hall and told him Chad Hall’s story. Andrew Hall was asked what could be done about this, but he had no quick answer.
“[My ﬁrst reaction was] probably a stupid one, which was like, ‘They can’t do that!’ ” Hall said. “I was so offended by the idea that an American could be kidnapped on Kuwaiti soil by Iraqis. I said, ‘That’s got to be a violation of international law; it just has to be, and there has to be something we can do about it.'”
As a Holocaust survivor, Andrew Hall has seen ﬁrst hand what can happen when a government takes advantage of its power. And that’s why he began his fight for victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
“I have always been a victim-oriented lawyer in that I have a sense of internal outrage whenever I see an abuse of power,” Hall said. “All of that, every bit of it, comes form the circumstances of my birth and my early childhood.”
CHAD HALL’S STORY
Chad Hall grew up in Texas and dropped out of high school to join the Army at the tender age of 18, where he became an expert in disarming explosives. He was a Mustang — an enlisted soldier who enters the Army as a private but works his was up to the rank of an officer — retiring as a major. After leaving the army, Hall went to work as a civilian contractor in Kuwait disarming unexploded munitions that were left from the First Gulf War.
Because of their close proximity to Iraq, Chad Hall’s crew used GPS to identify the Kuwait/Iraq border and clearly marked it with red stakes. Hall was working close to the border but was clearly in Kuwait’s territory when he was kidnapped.
He was first taken to a remote jail before being transferred to the now infamous Abu Ghraib prinson in Baghdad where the torture and interrogations continued.
By the third day, American authorities had learned of Chad Hall’s abduction, but with no diplomatic relationship with Iraq, turned to Poland for assistance. On the fourth day of Chad Hall’s imprisonment, the Polish government located him and brought him food and other necessities. Two days later, Poland negotiated his release, and he flew to freedom.
THE LEGAL BATTLE
In pursuit of justice for Chad Hall, Andrew Hall researched whether sovereign states that sponsor terrorism could be sued by their victims. He found one case: Prince v. Germany. Prince was a Jewish- American who was captured by Nazis in Poland at the start of World War II. Decades later in 1991, he sued Germany, and a federal judge ruled that a U.S. court could decide the case.
Relying on the Prince ruling, Hall ﬁled suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia, but the judge dismissed the suit on the grounds of sovereign immunity. On appeal, the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia ruled that citizens have no right to sue a foreign state in American court without its consent.
Facing a temporary dead-end, Hall sought other avenues toward justice. He want to congress and began lobbying. In 1996, Congress responded and passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to allow victims of state-sponsored terrorism to sue foreign states for damages in American courts.
In 2000, Hall won the lawsuit for Chad Hall in the District Court for the District of Columbia, but the state Department convinced President Bill Clinton to suspend judicial process, essentially holding that the law and judgement did not count, Hall said.
Hall went back to congress and lobbied further. Finally, in 2002, Congress passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 that the judgments had to be paid.Two American banks, Chase JP Morgan and The Bank of New York, held Iraq’s money, which was frozen when Iraq was declared a sponsor of terrorism. The banks were making money on Iraq’s frozen assets and fought in court to kep it, but Chad Hall was eventually paid in 2003.
Chad Hall was awarded nearly $1.8 million for the torture and loss of past and future wages. Because of his marriage failed due to post-traumatic stress disorder caused by his kidnapping and torture, his ex-wife, Elizabeth Hal, was awarded $1.5 million for loss of consortium.
For Andrew Hall, the experiences of his early childhood made the court victory against terrorism feel especially good.
Andrew Hall was born in a coal cellar in Warsaw Poland in September of 1944 to parents who were Polish Jews hiding from the Nazis.
Hall’s family had hidden from the Nazis for years before he was born. Desperate to protect his family from the death camps, Hall’s father, Edmond Horskey, posed as a German Aryan and rented an office on the 13th floor of the Hotel Warsaw in February of 1942. Hall’s mother, Maria Horskey, and then 6-year-old brother Adam Janush Horowitz (now Allan Hall), did not leave that ofﬁce for more than two years. When Edmund left for work, Maria and Adam hid in a dark closet during the day, only a whisper away from disaster.
“Literally across the partition, there was an ofﬁce full of people working, and if they would’ve heard us, that would’ve been instant death,” said Allan Hall, Andrew’s older brother who also graduated from UF Law in 1968. “Directly two floors above us was the Polish Headquarters of the German Luftwaffe, which was the air force in Poland. My father’s theory was that the closer we got to their headquarters, the less likely they were to look for us.”
In August of 1944, the Poles rose against their Nazi occupiers in the heroic but doomed Warsaw Uprising. Hall’s family moved from the office to another building’s coal cellar where he was eventually born. Allan Hall remembers running through sniper fire to get there. Although the coal cellar was thought to be safer than the rented room, it was a miracle that the family lived though it.
“In the shelter, at that point my mother was already pregnant, a V-2 rocket landed , and the only reason we’re here to tell you about it because didn’t explode,” Allan Hall said. “I clearly remember walking over to where it had penetrated the street and the ground and came all the way down to the sub-basement where we were. I remember seeing four or six feet of it exposed, and we could clearly see the German marking on it.”
The Polish rebellion surrendered in October. Warsaw’s German conquerors ordered everyone to leave and then burned the city to the ground. Still working to avoid capture, Hall’s family escaped through the sewer system. The exhausted family made its was to Krakow, Poland, arriving in November of 1944, and remaining until the war’s end.
Although Hall was too young to remember his life in Warsaw, it still impacts him today.
“one of the things that happens to the families if Holocaust survivors in those experiences don’t leave your house,” Hall said. “They’re there every day. It is the primary subject of conversation between your parents and friends. So you grow up in an environment steeped in a sense of injustice at the highest level and what it is you can do to make sure it never happens again. It’s very much a profound part of my personality.”
A few years after the war ended, Hall’s father was arrested by Poland’s new communist regime. Hall’s mother did not want to tale any risks with the safety of her sons, and she sent them out of Poland with other Jewish war orphans making their way to Palestine, now Israel.
For nine months, Hall and his brother wandered through Europe without parents and without identification papers.
“We would walk 15, 20, 30 miles a day with Andy mostly riding on my shoulders,” Allan Hall said.
During the trip, Andrew contracted measles and Allan stayed with him in a German hospital while the group of orphans continued on their journey. Meanwhile the boys’ parents, after Edmund Horskey escaped from incarceration, searched for their children, hitting a cold trail in Munich. In a weird twist of fate, they recognized a cousin on a Munich street, That cousin had come to Munich to take the brothers back to Palestine after receiving a letter from Andrew asking for help. The family was reunited at last.
COMING TO AMERICA
On Feb. 6, 1947, the reunited family flew to New York and to freedom. The first lived in Newburgh, N.Y. before moving to Miami.
Both brothers earned their undergraduate degrees from the University of Florida. Allan worked as a builder after graduation, and Andrew was pre-med, but both eventually entered UF Law.
“I took the LSAT on a lark and basically backed in,” Andrew Hall said. “I don’t know if this is true anymore, but if you got a high enough score, you were automatically admitted, so all of a sudden taking the LSAT as a lark — it was on a dare — I got automatically admitted into law school. I figured that must mean something.”
Hall graduated from UF Law in 1968; if he had passed a Spanish class in undergrad, he and Allan would’ve been part of the same class. Instead, Allan finished a semester before Andrew.
Andrew Hall clerked for Judge Joe Eaton before going to work for a firm in Miami. In 1975, he opened his own firm, now known as Hall, Lamb & Hall.
ANDREW HALL TODAY
Although Andrew Hall once wanted to be a doctor, he has become than exceptional lawyer, Allan Hall said.
“In my opinion, he has one of the best legal minds,” Allan Hall said. “I consider myself a good lawyer, but he leaves me in the dust.”
Since winning the Chad Hall case, Andrew Hall has represented numerous other victims state-sponsored terrorism including the families of the victims of the USS Cole bombing.
“I had no idea that it would start me on a 16-year-journey that would be as difficult and complex as it has been,” Hall said. “But the fact of the matter is it’s one of those things that once I started it, I never looked back; I’ve never regretted it.”
And although state-sponsored terrorism cases are just a small part of Hall’s practice, he takes a lot of pride in helping the victims.
“They’re more visible, so the stakes are higher. It’s the one case where if I walk into the cocktail party and there’s a guy in the military that’s there, he will routinely walk over, shake my hand, and thank me for the case because he knows that there are civilians out there fighting,” he said. “That’s the whole point. Notwithstanding the fact that I’m a civilian, it allows me to basically fight, in my way, against terrorism.”