Owens v. Republic of Sudan, Civil Action Nos. 01–2244 (JDB)

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtJOHN D. BATES
Citation826 F.Supp.2d 128
PartiesJames OWENS, et al., Plaintiffs, v. REPUBLIC OF SUDAN, et al., Defendants.Winfred Wairimu Wamai, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Republic of Sudan, et al., Defendants.Milly Mikali Amduso, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Republic of Sudan, et al., Defendants.Judith Abasi Mwila, et al., Plaintiffs, v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, et al., Defendants.Mary Onsongo, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Republic of Sudan, et al., Defendants.Rizwan Khaliq, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Republic of Sudan, et al., Defendants.
Docket Number08–1349(JDB),08–1361(JDB),10–0356(JDB).,08–1380(JDB),08–1377(JDB),Civil Action Nos. 01–2244 (JDB)
Decision Date28 November 2011

826 F.Supp.2d 128

James OWENS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
REPUBLIC OF SUDAN, et al., Defendants.Winfred Wairimu Wamai, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Republic of Sudan, et al., Defendants.Milly Mikali Amduso, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Republic of Sudan, et al., Defendants.Judith Abasi Mwila, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, et al., Defendants.Mary Onsongo, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Republic of Sudan, et al., Defendants.Rizwan Khaliq, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Republic of Sudan, et al., Defendants.

Civil Action Nos. 01–2244 (JDB)

08–1349(JDB)

08–1361(JDB)

08–1377(JDB)

08–1380(JDB)

10–0356(JDB).

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Nov. 28, 2011.


[826 F.Supp.2d 132]

Annie P. Kaplan, Thomas Fortune Fay, Caragh Glenn Fay, Fay Kaplan Law PA, Tuna Mecit, Washington, DC, Ronald Alvin Karp, Karp, Frosh, Lapidus, Wigodsky & Norwind, P.A., Rockville, MD, for Plaintiffs.

MEMORANDUM OPINION
JOHN D. BATES, District Judge.

Over thirteen years ago, on August 7, 1998, the United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were devastated by simultaneous suicide bombings that killed hundreds of people and injured over a thousand. Now, in this civil action under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”), plaintiffs—victims

[826 F.Supp.2d 133]

of the bombings and their families—seek to assign liability for their injuries to the Republic of Sudan (“Sudan”), the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan, the Islamic Republic of Iran (“Iran”), the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (“IRGC”) and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (“MOIS”) (collectively “defendants”).

The Court will proceed in two steps. First, it will present findings as to the causes of the bombings—specifically, findings that defendants were indeed responsible for supporting, funding, and otherwise carrying out this unconscionable attack. Second, the Court will set forth legal and remedial conclusions to bring this litigation to a close.1 Most recently, and relevant here, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (“2008 NDAA” or “Act”) amended the FSIA to permit foreign national employees of the United States government killed or injured while acting within the scope of their employment and their family members to sue a state sponsor of terrorism for injuries and damages resulting from an act of terrorism. Here, the majority of plaintiffs are foreign national employees of the U.S. Government and their immediate family members who, as the Court will explain below, lack a claim under the 2008 NDAA amendments to FSIA but may proceed under applicable state law.

Background

Plaintiffs bring this case pursuant to section 1083 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Pub.L. No. 110–181, § 1083, 122 Stat. 341 (2008) (codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1605A (2009)). Several cases were consolidated for purposes of the Court's October 25–28, 2010 evidentiary hearing on liability. In each case, as described below, defendants were properly served according to the FSIA. Defendants failed to respond, and the Clerk of Court entered defaults against defendants in each case. In Owens v. Republic of Sudan, No. 1:01–cv–02244 (JDB), service of process was completed upon each defendant: the Republic of Sudan on February 25, 2003 [Docket Entry 9]; the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan on February 25, 2003 [Docket Entry 9]; the Islamic Republic of Iran on March 5, 2003 [Docket Entry 10]; and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security on October 14, 2002 [Docket Entry 6]. Defaults were entered against the Iranian defendants on May 8, 2003, [Docket Entry 11], and defaults were entered against the Republic of Sudan and the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan on March 25, 2010 [Docket Entry 173].

In Wamai v. Republic of Sudan, No. 1:08–cv–01349 (JDB), service of process was completed on each of the named defendants: the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan was served with process on February 12, 2009, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(3) [Docket Entry 15]; the Republic of Sudan was served with process on April 22, 2009 through the U.S. Department of State pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 23], which was delivered under diplomatic note on November 12, 2009 [Docket Entry 28]; the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security was served with process on February 14, 2009 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(3) [Docket Entry 15]; and the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were served with process on

[826 F.Supp.2d 134]

April 22, 2009 through the U.S. Department of State pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 23], which was delivered under diplomatic notes on November 18, 2009 [Docket Entry 29]. An entry of default was filed against each of these defendants on June 4, 2010 [Docket Entries 34, 35].

In Amduso v. Republic of Sudan, No. 1:08–cv–01361 (JDB), the Sudanese defendants were served with process on February 1, 2009 under 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(3) [Docket Entry 27], and the Iranian defendants were served on June 26, 2009 under 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 33]. Defaults were entered against the Republic of Sudan and the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan on April 22, 2010 [Docket Entry 29] and against the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security on October 6, 2009 [Docket Entry 40].

In Mwila v. Islamic Republic of Iran, No. 1:08–cv–01377 (JDB), service of process was completed on each of the named defendants: the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan was served with process on March 17, 2009 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(3) [Docket Entry 3]; the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security were served with process on September 8, 2009 through the U.S. Department of State pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 16]; and the Republic of Sudan was served with process on November 12, 2009 through the U.S. Department of State pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 19]. Defaults were entered against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Sudan, and the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan on February 18, 2010 [Docket Entries 20, 21 and 22] and against the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security on April 21, 2010 [Docket Entry 23].

In Khaliq v. Republic of Sudan, No. 1:10–cv–00356(JDB), the Sudanese defendants were served with process on October 13, 2010 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 16]. The Islamic Republic of Iran was served with process on October 11, 2010 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 20]. Defaults were entered against the Republic of Sudan on December 15, 2010 [Docket Entry 18] and against the Islamic Republic of Iran on December 22, 2010 [Docket Entry 21].

Finally, in Onsongo v. Republic of Sudan, No. 1:08–cv–01380 (JDB), the Sudanese defendants were served with process on December 17, 2009 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 16]. The Iranian Ministry of Information and Security was served with process on February 14, 2009 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(3) [Docket Entry 8], and the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were served with process on November 18, 2009 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) [Docket Entry 17]. Defaults were entered against each of the named defendants on June 2, 2010 [Docket Entries 21, 22, and 23].

Before plaintiffs can be awarded any relief, this Court must determine whether they have established their claims “by evidence satisfactory to the court.” 28 U.S.C. § 1608(e); see also Roeder v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 333 F.3d 228, 232 (D.C.Cir.2003). This “satisfactory to the court” standard is identical to the standard for entry of default judgments against the United States in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(e). Hill v. Republic of Iraq, 328 F.3d 680, 684 (D.C.Cir.2003). In evaluating the plaintiffs' proof, the court may “accept as true the plaintiffs' uncontroverted evidence.” Elahi v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 124 F.Supp.2d 97, 100 (D.D.C.2000);

[826 F.Supp.2d 135]

Campuzano v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 281 F.Supp.2d 258, 268 (D.D.C.2003). In FSIA default judgment proceedings, the plaintiffs may establish proof by affidavit. Weinstein v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 184 F.Supp.2d 13, 19 (D.D.C.2002). A three-day hearing on liability and damages was held beginning on October 25, 2010. At this hearing, the Court received evidence in the form of live testimony, videotaped testimony, affidavit, and original documentary and videographic evidence. The Court applied the Federal Rules of Evidence. Based on the record established herein, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

I. FINDINGS OF FACTA. Islamic Republic of Iran's Support for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda

The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (“Iran”) has a long history of providing material aid and support to terrorist organizations including al Qaeda, which have claimed responsibility for the August 7, 1998 embassy bombings. See, e.g., Tr. Vol. II at 124–25.2 Iran had been the preeminent state sponsor of terrorism against United States interests for decades. See id. at 123. Throughout the 1990s—at least—Iran regarded al Qaeda as a useful tool to destabilize U.S. interests. As discussed in detail below, the government of Iran aided, abetted and conspired with Hezbollah, Osama Bin Laden, and al Qaeda to launch large-scale bombing attacks against the United States by utilizing the sophisticated delivery mechanism of powerful suicide truck bombs. Hezbollah, a terrorist organization based principally in Lebanon, had utilized this type of bomb in the devastating 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Prior to their meetings with Iranian officials and agents, Bin Laden and al Qaeda did not possess the technical expertise required to carry out the embassy...

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57 practice notes
  • Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, Nos. 00–cv–2329 (RCL), 01–cv–2104 (RCL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • August 31, 2012
    ...law’ approach.” Estate of Doe v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 808 F.Supp.2d 1, 23 n. 7 (D.D.C.2011); see also Owens v. Republic of Sudan, 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 157 n. 3 (D.D.C.2011). The D.C. Circuit in Bettis adopted this approach when it applied Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 to FSIA intent......
  • Thuneibat v. Syrian Arab Republic, Civil Action No. 12-cv-00020 (BAH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 1, 2016
    ...570, 572 (7th Cir.2012) )); Estate of Doe v. Islamic Republic of Iran , 808 F.Supp.2d 1, 13 (D.D.C.2011) ; Owens v. Republic of Sudan , 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 149 (D.D.C.2011). Consequently, all plaintiffs, including the non-U.S. nationals, satisfy the second element. The plaintiffs do not need......
  • Owens v. BNP Paribas, S.A., No. 17-7037
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 27, 2018
    ...and logistical supply network, as well as critical financial, military, and intelligence services. See Owens v. Republic of Sudan , 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 139-46 (D.D.C. 2011). In the early 1990s, Sudan invited al Qaeda to relocate from Afghanistan and promised the government’s support. Am. Com......
  • Owens v. Republic Sudan, No. 14-5105
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 28, 2017
    ...hearing the district court held both defendants liable for materially supporting the embassy bombings. Owens v. Republic of Sudan , 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 157 (D.D.C. 2011) ( Owens IV ). More specifically, the district court found Sudan had provided al Qaeda a safe harbor from which it could es......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, Nos. 00–cv–2329 (RCL), 01–cv–2104 (RCL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • August 31, 2012
    ...law’ approach.” Estate of Doe v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 808 F.Supp.2d 1, 23 n. 7 (D.D.C.2011); see also Owens v. Republic of Sudan, 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 157 n. 3 (D.D.C.2011). The D.C. Circuit in Bettis adopted this approach when it applied Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 to FSIA intent......
  • Thuneibat v. Syrian Arab Republic, Civil Action No. 12-cv-00020 (BAH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 1, 2016
    ...570, 572 (7th Cir.2012) )); Estate of Doe v. Islamic Republic of Iran , 808 F.Supp.2d 1, 13 (D.D.C.2011) ; Owens v. Republic of Sudan , 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 149 (D.D.C.2011). Consequently, all plaintiffs, including the non-U.S. nationals, satisfy the second element. The plaintiffs do not need......
  • Owens v. BNP Paribas, S.A., No. 17-7037
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 27, 2018
    ...and logistical supply network, as well as critical financial, military, and intelligence services. See Owens v. Republic of Sudan , 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 139-46 (D.D.C. 2011). In the early 1990s, Sudan invited al Qaeda to relocate from Afghanistan and promised the government’s support. Am. Com......
  • Owens v. Republic Sudan, No. 14-5105
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 28, 2017
    ...hearing the district court held both defendants liable for materially supporting the embassy bombings. Owens v. Republic of Sudan , 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 157 (D.D.C. 2011) ( Owens IV ). More specifically, the district court found Sudan had provided al Qaeda a safe harbor from which it could es......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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