University of Miami Business Law Review

Document Type



This Piece examines how ambiguity in the property interests that would be subject to attachment under section 201 of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (“TRIA”) and section 1610(g) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”) has affected efforts by victims of terrorism to fulfill their monetary judgments, especially in light of courts’ use of Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code to fill the definitional gap. This Piece focuses on a recent D.C. Circuit decision, Estate of Levin v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., analyzing its implications for terrorism victims holding monetary judgments to attach blocked electronic funds transfers (“EFTs”) originating from state sponsors of terrorism. Estate of Levin created a new circuit split with the Second Circuit.

This Piece proceeds in three parts. Part I traces the FSIA’s history and locates TRIA within a larger Congressional effort to expand terrorism victims’ access to restitution via a series of FSIA amendments. It then explains how Congress’s failure to define the property interests that would be subject to attachment under TRIA section 201 and FSIA section 1610(g) has resulted in divergent efforts by courts to fill in the gap using federal interstitial lawmaking and state law. Part II explains the Second Circuit’s application of the New York U.C.C. Article 4A to blocked funds. It then discusses the main points of contention arising from Estate of Levin’s split from the Second Circuit, as well as Estate of Levin’s concurring opinion. Part III argues that Congress should intervene by amending TRIA section 201 and FSIA section 1610(g) to define EFT ownership interests using tracing and agency principles.