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EISENFELD v. ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

July 11, 2000

LEONARD I. EISENFELD, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
V.
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lamberth, Judge

  FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

This wrongful death action arises from an act of state-sponsored terrorism. Defendants have not entered an appearance in this matter. This Court entered Defendants' default on November 11, 1999, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(e) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Notwithstanding indicia of Defendants' willful default, however, this Court is compelled to make further inquiry prior to entering a judgment by default against Defendants. As with actions against the federal government, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA") requires that a default judgment against a foreign state be entered only after a plaintiff "establishes his claim or right to relief by evidence that is satisfactory to the Court." 28 U.S.C. § 1608(e); see also Flatow v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, et al., 999 F. Supp. 1, 6 (1998).

Plaintiffs bring this action pursuant to the FSIA, which establishes federal court jurisdiction over foreign states and their officials, agents and employees in certain enumerated instances. In particular, the FSIA creates a federal cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death resulting from acts of state-sponsored terrorism. This Court has engaged in a careful review of the evidence presented in this case, in light of Flatow, 999 F. Supp. 1, and the other reported cases under the antiterrorism provisions of the FSIA. See, e.g., Daliberti v. Republic of Iraq, No. 96-1118, 2000 WL 684813 (D.D.C. May 23, 2000); Anderson v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, 90 F. Supp. 107 (D.D.C. 2000); Ciccippio v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, 18 F. Supp.2d 62 (D.D.C. 1998); Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba, 996 F. Supp. 1239 (S.D.Fla. 1997). Based upon the extensive evidence presented, the Court concludes that the Plaintiffs have established their claim and right to relief as set forth below.

FINDINGS OF FACT

The Court heard testimony on May 1-2, 2000 and May 22, 2000. The Plaintiffs proceeded in the manner of a bench trial and the following findings of fact are based upon the sworn testimony and documents entered into evidence in accordance with the Federal Rules of Evidence. Plaintiffs have "established [their] claim or right to relief by evidence that is satisfactory to the Court," as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1608(e). This Court finds the following facts to be established by clear and convincing evidence, which would have been sufficient to establish a prima facie case in a contested proceeding:
(1) Plaintiff Dr. Leonard I. Eisenfeld, a resident of and domiciliary of the State of Connecticut, is the father of decedent Matthew Eisenfeld. He brings this action in his own right, as Administrator of the Estate of Matthew Eisenfeld, and on behalf of decedent's heirs-at-law, Vicki Eisenfeld, decedent's mother, Amy Eisenfeld, decedent's sister, and the Plaintiff, and on behalf of the Estate of Matthew Eisenfeld.

(2) Matthew Eisenfeld was born on February 5, 1971, in the United States of America, and was at birth and remained until his death, a citizen of the United States.

(3) Arline Duker, a resident and domiciliary of the State of New Jersey, is the mother of the decedent, Sara Rachel Duker. She brings this action in her own right, as Administrator of the Estate of Sara Rachel Duker, and on behalf of decedent's heirs at law, decedent's sisters, Tamara Duker and Ariella Duker, and the Plaintiff, and on behalf of the Estate of Sara Rachel Duker.

(4) Sara Rachel Duker was born on August 13, 1973, in the United States of America and was at birth and remained until her death, a citizen of the United States.

(5) Matthew Eisenfeld was a graduate of Yale University and was a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary at its facility in Israel beginning in the Fall of 1995 and was so engaged at the time of his death.

(6) Sara Rachel Duker was a graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University and was a student in a postgraduate program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem beginning in the fall of 1995 and was so engaged at the time of her death.

(7) On February 25, 1996, Matthew Eisenfeld and Sara Rachel Duker boarded the Number 18 Egged bus in Jerusalem to journey to the archeological dig at Petra, Jordan.

(8) At or about 6:45 a.m. Jerusalem time, as the bus came to a stop on Yafo Street at the intersection with Sarae Yisrael Street, Magid Wardah, a passenger on the bus, detonated explosives which, at the direction of Hamas, he had carried onto the bus concealed in a travel bag, resulting in the complete destruction of the bus and hurling debris in excess of 100 meters.

(9) As a result of the explosion, Matthew Eisenfeld and Sara Rachel Duker suffered severe injuries, which resulted in their deaths.

(10) Matthew Eisenfeld was treated on the scene by emergency medical personnel immediately after the explosion, however, he expired from his wounds on February 25, 1996.

(11) Sara Rachel Duker expired from her wounds on the scene on February 25, 1996.

(12) The testimony of Dr. Jehuda Hiss, who performed the postmortem examination, established that death was not instantaneous for either Matthew Eisenfeld or Sara Rachel Duker, and that the mechanism of death in both cases was injury to the lungs caused by explosion and further that there was a period of pain and suffering of several minutes following the explosion.

(13) To a reasonable degree of medical certainty, Matthew Eisenfeld and Sara Rachel Duker, suffered extreme bodily pain and suffering for several minutes following the explosion before death.

(14) Plaintiff, Dr. Leonard I. Eisenfeld, and his wife, Vicki, were informed of the attack and of the death of his son, Matthew, on February 25, 1996, when the ...


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