The U.S. subsidiary of a French state-owned railway that is trying to fend off lawsuits from Holocaust survivors in the United States has added Hogan Lovells to its stable of lobbyists.
For Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français subsidiary SNCF America Inc., Hogan is lobbying against legislation called the Holocaust Rail Justice Act, which would make it possible for Holocaust survivors to bring claims in U.S. federal court against the company, which transported Jews and other people to concentration camps when Nazi Germany occupied France during World War II. The legislation would except railways used by the Nazis from the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which restricts suits that can be brought in U.S. courts against a nation or an instrumentality of a foreign government.
Although the French government has reparations and restitution programs for Holocaust survivors, SNCF itself hasn't paid them any compensation for its role in the atrocities. The company has apologized for its part in the Holocaust. But SNCF claims that the Nazis forced it to transport Jews and other individuals.
SNCF America has spent at least $270,000 on federal lobbying thus far this year, according to congressional records. The company has used lobbyists from Advanced Strategies, Capitol Counsel, Shockey Scofield Solutions and Dutko Worldwide. SNCF America also is receiving lobbying help from Kelley Drye & Warren, which recently hired Gregory Mastel, who advocated for the company at Dutko. Each of these lobby shops is lobbying for the railway on the congressional legislation.
On Capitol Hill, SNCF America is going up against Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which is providing pro bono counsel to about 250 Holocaust survivors and their relatives in the United States. Akin Gump began its pro bono representation of the Holocaust survivors in 2005.