Bennett v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, 093019 FED9, 19-15101

Docket Nº:19-15101
Party Name:MICHAEL BENNETT, Co-Administrators of the Estate of Marla Ann Bennett; LINDA BENNETT, as Co-Administrators of the Estate of Maria Ann Bennett, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN; THE IRANIAN MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND SECURITY, Defendants, v. FRANKLIN RESOURCES, INC.; VISA INC., Third-party-plaintiffs-Appellees, v. BANK MELL...
Judge Panel:Before: THOMAS, Chief Judge, and GRABER and BERZON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 30, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

MICHAEL BENNETT, Co-Administrators of the Estate of Marla Ann Bennett; LINDA BENNETT, as Co-Administrators of the Estate of Maria Ann Bennett, Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN; THE IRANIAN MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND SECURITY, Defendants,

v.

FRANKLIN RESOURCES, INC.; VISA INC., Third-party-plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

BANK MELLI, Third-party-defendant-Appellant,

ESTATE OF MEIR KAHANE; et al., Third-party-defendants-Appellees.

No. 19-15101

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

September 30, 2019

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Argued and Submitted September 23, 2019 San Francisco, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California Charles R. Breyer, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 3:11-cv-05807-CRB

Before: THOMAS, Chief Judge, and GRABER and BERZON, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM [*]

This case comes before us for the second time. We previously affirmed the denial of Bank Melli's motion to dismiss. We recognized that, for blocked assets "to be subject to execution or attachment" under § 201(a) of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act ("TRIA"), "the blocked assets must be 'assets of' the instrumentality." Bennett v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 825 F.3d 949, 963 (9th Cir. 2016), abrogated on other grounds by Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 138 S.Ct. 816 (2018). As relevant here, we then held that, on the facts alleged, the blocked assets in dispute are property of Bank Melli and so may be assigned to judgment creditors. Id. at 963–64.

Subsequently, the district court granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, holding that the funds that Visa deposited in the district court's registry are Bank Melli's property and, therefore, are subject to attachment under TRIA § 201(a). On Bank Melli's timely appeal from the resulting judgment, we affirm.

Bank Melli argues that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether it "owns" the funds, because two of Visa's regulatory filings listed Visa as "owner" of the funds. That argument is unavailing for two reasons.

First, that issue of fact is not material. Bank Melli does not dispute any of the facts alleged in the complaint, on which we rested our holding that the blocked assets are property of Bank Melli. For example, Bank Melli has a contractual right to obtain payments from Visa. Bank Melli concedes that it has "an interest in the funds" and a...

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