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
established their claim and right to relief as set forth below.
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
(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
(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
(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
(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 ...