Beaty v. Republic of Iraq

Decision Date20 March 2007
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 03-0215(JDB).
PartiesRobin BEATY, et al., Plaintiffs, v. REPUBLIC OF IRAQ, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

Nelson M. Jones, III, Nicholas and Jones, LLP, Houston, TX, Andrew C. Hall, Hall, David & Joseph, P.A., Miami, FL, for Plaintiffs.

Robert A. Burgoyne, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendant.


BATES, District Judge.

United States citizens Kevin Beaty and William Barloon were detained and allegedly held as hostages by the former Iraqi regime in the 1990s. Along with other former detainees and their spouses, Beaty and Barloon filed suit against Iraq in 1996, eventually obtaining a default judgment against it. See Daliberti v. Republic of Iraq, 146 F.Supp.2d 19 (D.D.C.2001) ("Daliberti II"); Daliberti v. Republic of Iraq, 97 F.Supp.2d 38 (D.D.C.2000) ("Daliberti I"). The plaintiffs in this caseJordan Beaty, Austin Makenzie Beaty, William R. Barloon, Bryan C. Barloon, and Rebecca t. Barloon — are the children of Kevin Beaty and William Barloon. Invoking the state-sponsored terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7), plaintiffs seek damages against Iraq for' the emotional distress that they allegedly suffered during their fathers' captivity.

Iraq has filed a motion to dismiss in which it asserts that plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, and that plaintiffs' claims are either nonjusticiable or preempted because of their potential to undermine United States foreign policy. The United States has submitted a statement of interest reaffirming its position that actions taken by the political branches after the filing of the original complaint divest this Court of jurisdiction. For their part, plaintiffs maintain that recent decisions of the D.C. Circuit and this Court establish that there is a jurisdictional basis for their suit, that their claims are justiciable, and that they are entitled to partial summary judgment based on the facts established in the Daliberti case. Pending before the Court are defendant's motion to dismiss and plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part both motions.


The facts underlying the detention and captivity of Beaty and Barloon are recounted at length in the two reported decisions in the Daliberti litigation, see 146 F.Supp.2d at 21-23, 97 F.Supp.2d at 41-42, and have not been disputed here. (These facts are drawn from plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint, as well as the Daliberti opinions, of which this Court may take judicial notice. See Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 466 F.Supp.2d 229, 263 (D.D.C.2006); Salazar v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 370 F.Supp.2d 105, 109 n. 6 (D.D.C.2005).) Beaty and Barloon resided in Kuwait and worked in civilian capacities following the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Beaty worked as a drilling supervisor on an oil rig, and Barloon supervised aircraft maintenance and overhaul. Third Am. Compl. ¶ 7. In April of 1993, Beaty was detained by Iraqi border guards and taken at gunpoint first to Basra and later to Baghdad. Id. at ¶¶ 9-11. For a period of 205 days, Beaty lived in squalid conditions in two Iraqi prisons, where he was deprived of food and water, as well as medication for his heart condition. Id. at ¶¶ 10-11. Iraq conditioned Beaty's release on either the lifting of the economic sanctions that had been imposed upon it or a significant monetary ransom. Id. at ¶ 12. Only after efforts by Beaty's wife Robin and prominent political figures, including former President Jimmy Carter and then-Oklahoma Senator David Boren, did Iraq release Beaty. Id. at ¶¶ 12-13.

Barloon was detained by an Iraqi border guard in March of 1995. Id. at ¶ 14. Like Beaty, he was transported first to Basra and then to Baghdad, where, again like Beaty, he was eventually held at the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Id. at ¶ 16. During his 126 days of detention, Barloon was deprived of food, water, and other necessities. Id. at ¶ 17. His captors beat him and, on one occasion, subjected him to a mock execution. Id.; see Daliberti II, 146 F.Supp.2d at 23. Diplomatic efforts by the Clinton Administration, and in particular the intervention of then-Congressman Bill Richardson, led to Barloon's release in late 1995. Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18-20.

Beaty and Barloon, joined by +Or wives, two other detainees, and those detainees' spouses, filed suit against Iraq in May of 1996. The four men sought damages for kidnapping, false imprisonment, and torture; their wives sought recovery for intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium. See Daliberti I, 97 F.Supp.2d at 41-42. The jurisdictional basis for the suit was provided by legislation that Congress had enacted just weeks earlier: section 221(a) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). See Pub.L. 104-132, § 221(a), 110 Stat. 1214, 1242-43 (April 24, 1996). A key provision in that legislation deprived countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism of sovereign immunity from suits seeking money damages "for personal injury or death that was caused by an act of torture, extrajudicial killing, aircraft sabotage, hostage taking, or the provision of material support or resources ... for such an act if such act or provision of material support is engaged in by an official, employee, or agent of such foreign state while acting within the scope of his or her office, employment, or agency." Id. (codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7)).

After the Clerk of the Court entered default against it, Iraq appeared by counsel and filed a motion to dismiss the civil suit. Daliberti I, 97 F.Supp.2d at 42. Judge Friedman concluded that the plaintiffs had "met their burden of showing that the actions they complain of fall under the state sponsored terrorism exception to foreign sovereign immunity in 28 U.S.C. 1607(a)(7)," specifically by demonstrating that they had been the victims of "torture" and "hostage taking" — two of the acts enumerated in the statute. Id. at 45-46. He also rejected Iraq's contentions that the state-sponsored terrorism exception is unconstitutional and that adjudication of the suit was barred by the act-of-state doctrine. Id. at 48-55. Accordingly, he denied Iraq's motion to dismiss. After its motion was denied, Iraq's counsel withdrew from the case, and the Clerk of the 4. Court once again entered default against Iraq. The case was then transferred to Judge Oberdorfer, who conducted a four-day bench trial, issued findings of fact, and entered final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. Daliberti II, 146 F.Supp.2d at 21. That judgment awarded millions of dollars in damages to the male plaintiffs for the physical hardships suffered during their captivity and their psychological problems since release, as well as millions of dollars to the men's wives for "loss of the society and companionship of their husbands." Id. at 24, 26-27.

Not covered by the Daliberti judgment, however, were the Beaty and Barloon children. Those five children, plaintiffs here, filed a complaint in February of 2003 seeking monetary damages for the "mental anguish, pain and suffering during the period of their fathers' incarceration." Compl. ¶ 10. (The filing of their complaint almost two years after the Daliberti judgment was not just happenstance: a ten-year statute of limitations governs cases brought under § 1605(a)(7), see 28 U.S.C. § 1605(f), and Beaty's detention and captivity began and ended in 1993.) But shortly after plaintiffs filed their complaint, events outside and inside the courthouse dramatically altered the existing legal and political landscape. A United States-led coalition commenced a military invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, eventually toppling the regime headed by Saddam Hussein. In support of the war effort, Congress passed the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act ("EWSAA"), Pub.L. No. 108-11, 117 Stat. 559 (2003). The EWSAA provided funding for military operations in Iraq and homeland security measures in the United States. It also gave the President the authority to suspend certain laws that had barred aid to Iraq and to "make inapplicable with respect to Iraq... any other provision of law that applies to countries that have supported terrorism." Pub.L. No. 108-11, § 1503, 117 Stat. at 579. President George W. Bush exercised the authority granted by Congress when he issued Presidential Determination 2003-23 on May 7, 2003. Echoing the language of the EWSAA, the Presidential Determination purported to "make inapplicable with respect to Iraq section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 ... and any other provision of law that applies to countries that have supported terrorism." 68 Fed.Reg. 26,459 (May 7, 003). The President explained in' a message to Congress the following week his understanding that the laws made "inapplicable" to Iraq in Presidential Determination 2003-23 included 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7), the state-sponsored terrorism exception to the FSIA. See 39 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 647, 647-48 (May 22, 2003).

At virtually the same time that the political branches worked to adapt the laws to a changing political and military situation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was issuing a series of important rulings addressing unanswered questions as to the contours of 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7). One of those decisions, Cicippio-Puleo v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 353 F.3d 1024 (D.C.Cir.2004), was issued shortly after the first status conference in this case. The court of appeals in Cicippio resolved two questions of far-reaching significance in the FSIA context. It first held that § 1605(a)(7) confers subject-matter jurisdiction but "does not create a private...

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