United States District Court, District of Columbia
June 25, 2001
THOMAS M. SUTHERLAND, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, AND THE IRANIAN MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND FINANCE, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge.
On December 13, 1999, the plaintiffs, Thomas Sutherland and his
family, filed a multi-count complaint alleging that the defendants were
responsible for Thomas Sutherland's kidnapping, detention, and torture
over a 6 1/2; year period. The defendants, despite being properly served
with process, failed to answer this charge in any way. Thus, Judge
Thomas Penfield Jackson entered the defendants' default on December 1,
Notwithstanding this entry of default, a default judgment against a
foreign state may not be entered until the plaintiffs have "establishe[d]
[their] claim or right to relief by evidence that is satisfactory to the
Court." 28 U.S.C. § 1608(e). Thus, after this case was transferred
to the undersigned judge, the Court held a bench trial to receive
evidence from the plaintiffs. Again, the defendants failed to appear.
Based on the evidence presented in that trial, and the law applicable
to this case, the Court finds a default judgment merited. Further, the
Court finds that the plaintiffs are entitled to the following
Thomas M. Sutherland US$23,540,000
Jean Sutherland US$10,000,000
Ann Elizabeth Sutherland US$6,500,000
Katherine Lee Sutherland US$6,500,000
Joan Murray Sutherland US$6,500,000
Finally, the Court finds that the Thomas M. Sutherland is entitled
to US$300,000,000 in punitive damages.
I. FINDINGS OF FACT
1. In June 1985, Thomas M. Sutherland was serving as Dean of the
Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the American University of
Beirut ("AUB") in Lebanon and had held that position for approximately
two years. On June 9, 1985, Professor Sutherland arrived in Lebanon from
a trip to the United States and was being driven from the airport to his
office at AUB when his automobile was sideswiped and stopped by another
containing eight young men carrying submachine guns. Professor
Sutherland was forcibly dragged from his vehicle and kidnapped at
gunpoint by members of the Hizbollah. He spent the next 2,354 days,
approximately six and one-half years, imprisoned in dungeons in various
parts of Lebanon, including the southern suburbs of Beirut and Lebanon's
Bekaa Valley. Conditions in these dungeons were horrific and inhumane.
Professor Sutherland, and the other hostages held with or near him
— all by the Hizbollah — were physically and psychologically
abused by their captors. Professor Sutherland was released from
captivity on November 18, 1991.*fn1
2. Plaintiff Thomas M. Sutherland, his wife Jean Sutherland, and their
daughters, Ann Elizabeth Sutherland, Katherine Lee Sutherland, and Joan
Murray Sutherland, now bring this action against the Islamic Republic of
Iran ("Iran") and its Ministry of Information and Security ("MOIS"), as
the principals responsible for the multiple tortious injuries done to the
Sutherland family by Hizbollah, a terrorist organization financially
backed and directed by Iran and MOIS. Jurisdiction of the Plaintiffs'
case is based on 28 U.S.C. § 1330(b) and 1605(a)(7), the latter being
a 1996 amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act,
28 U.S.C. § 1602-1611.
3. Professor Thomas Sutherland was born in Scotland on May 3, 1931.
He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1963.
4. Professor Sutherland first came to the United States in 1954 and
obtained his Ph.D. from Iowa State University in 1958. While at Iowa
State he married Jean Sutherland and between them they had three
daughters, Ann, Katherine (also known as "Kit") and Joan.
5. The Sutherlands also moved to Fort Collins, Colorado in 1958 and
Thomas M. Sutherland became a Professor at Colorado State University
specializing in various agricultural matters. In the ensuing years
Professor Sutherland traveled to and had teaching assignments in other
countries. For example, in 1976-78, Professor Sutherland was Director of
Training for two full years at the International Livestock Center for
Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
6. In 1981, Professor Sutherland was offered the position of Dean of
the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at AUB in Beirut, Lebanon.
Although he had mixed feelings about leaving his post at Colorado State
University, he and his wife Jean decided to go to Beirut as a team. In
mid-1983, he signed a three-year contract with AUB. Initially, the
Sutherlands' two youngest daughters, Kit and Joan, also went to Beirut.
At the time Kit was a junior at the University of Colorado. She stayed
in Beirut until mid-1984 and completed her junior year abroad at AUB.
Joan stayed in Beirut until February 1984, at which time she decided to
return home. The Sutherlands' oldest daughter, Ann, remained in the
United States where she was completing her post-graduate education at the
University of California San Francisco.
Thomas M. Sutherland
7. Professor Sutherland decided to go to Lebanon for several reasons.
He saw the post as an opportunity to advance his career in university
administration. He also saw the post in Lebanon as an opportunity to
teach Lebanese farmers how to
get greater productivity from land that had
not been as agriculturally productive as it could have been. In
addition, as Professor Sutherland testified, AUB was an outstanding
institution of higher education with an excellent faculty, many of whom
had trained at the best colleges and universities in the United States.
Moreover, AUB's graduates typically received the best jobs in the Middle
8. When the Sutherlands arrived in Lebanon in mid-1983, the country
was in turmoil that was effectively a state of civil war. The United
States Embassy in Beirut had been bombed on April 18, 1983. Periodically
bombs, shells, and sniper fire would erupt in various parts of the city.
A line running roughly from north to south in Beirut, known as "the green
line," separated Muslims from Christians. The Muslims were on the
western side of the city, with Christians to the east. Crossing the line
in either direction was sometimes dangerous and always time consuming.
Not long after the Sutherlands arrived, on October 23, 1983, the United
States Marine barracks near the airport south of Beirut, exploded when a
suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden truck into the barracks. 241
U.S. servicemen were killed.
9. The AUB campus was an enclave on the western side of the city next
to the Mediterranean Sea. The Sutherlands lived in a house on campus
and, at least for the first several months they lived in Beirut, the
campus was somewhat sacrosanct from the turmoil around it.
10. On January 18, 1984, however, Malcolm Kerr, President of AUB, was
assassinated by a bullet fired into the back of his head just outside the
elevator near his office in the AUB Administration Building.
11. These events shook and worried the Sutherlands, but they felt
their mission in Beirut was important and that they, as people there to
help the Lebanese, were unlikely targets for any nefarious activity.
Thus, they returned for the 1984-85 school year and Professor Sutherland
likewise planned to return for the 1985-86 school year to complete his
12. During the 1983-85 time period, incidents of kidnapping of
Americans and citizens of various Western European countries began to
occur. Among those kidnapped were: William Buckley, the local Central
Intelligence Agency ("CIA") station chief, kidnapped on March 16, 1984;
Reverend Benjamin Weir of the Episcopal Church, kidnapped on May 8,
1984; Father Lawrence Martin Jenco of the Catholic Church, kidnapped on
January 8, 1985; Terry Anderson of the Associated Press, kidnapped on
March 16, 1985; and David Jacobsen of the AUB Medical School, kidnapped
on May 28, 1985. See Appendix III to At Your Own Risk, by Tom & Jean
Sutherland. Pls' Exh. 92.
13. At the end of the 1984-85 academic year, Professor Sutherland flew
home to Colorado on May 19, 1985, to attend Kit's college graduation from
the University of Colorado, to attend a conference in California and to
get a few days rest. As part of his rest, Professor Sutherland spent a
few days at the family cabin just outside Estes Park, Colorado. Ann and
Joan both recall a conversation at that time in which their father said
he would rather die than be kidnapped, but that in any event he was not
concerned because he did not see himself as a likely target.
14. Professor Sutherland returned to Beirut alone on June 9, 1985.
The night before, Jean had placed in his briefcase a lengthy paper
prepared by a friend on Islam, entitled Islam Today, that discussed
various sects and aspects of Islam. The document had been formatted and
printed so that its margins were "right justified." Jean thought Tom
the paper interesting and informative. Because Professor
Sutherland did not open his briefcase during the trip from his home to
Beirut, he was not aware of this paper. Unfortunately, the paper would
prove to be very important to Professor Sutherland's "well-being."
Although Professor Sutherland arrived in Beirut on June 9, he intended to
remain for only a couple of weeks, as he planned to return to Colorado in
time for Joan's twenty-first birthday party on July 2, 1985.
15. Upon his arrival in Beirut, Professor Sutherland was met by his
driver Sharif and three bodyguards. Professor Sutherland, noting that it
was only six miles to AUB, waved off the bodyguards, not believing them
necessary. He and Sharif got into the front seat of Sharif's Chevrolet
Caprice and left the airport, first towards the main road and then
towards the coastal road that would take them north the short distance to
16. Not long after leaving the airport, two cars pulled alongside
Professor Sutherland's car. Suddenly, one of the cars pulled in front of
the Caprice, cutting it off. Eight armed men emerged from the two cars
and began spraying submachine gun fire in various directions. Professor
Sutherland was forced into one car with four of his captors and spirited
off to a location in the southern suburbs of Beirut. During the ride
most of Professor Sutherland's personal effects were taken from him. In
southern Beirut the car stopped, and Professor Sutherland was taken out
and forced into the vehicle's trunk. He was then driven for
approximately ten minutes to another spot in southern Beirut. When the
vehicle stopped, Professor Sutherland was removed from the trunk and he
found himself standing on a concrete slab in front of a 10 or 12 story
building. At that point a blindfold was placed over his eyes. This was
the last time Professor Sutherland would see the sun for six and one-half
17. Professor Sutherland was then taken to a double basement in what
would be the first of many places he would be held captive over the
ensuing six and one-half years. During the next four weeks he was held
alone. Thereafter, he was moved to another location and held captive for
some months with Father Jenco, Reverend Weir, Terry Anderson and David
18. In these and other locations the conditions were generally
horrible. Professor Sutherland was nearly always chained to the floor or
to a wall, or to another hostage who was also chained to the floor or to
a wall. His clothes were taken from him and at various times he was
provided only a pair of boxer shorts or "Chinese pajamas" as clothing.
Professor Sutherland and Terry Anderson termed one place they were held
as the "Horse Stalls." They were so-named because each "cell" consisted
of a steel cage with a heavy mesh ceiling. The cage was roughly six feet
by two feet and Professor Sutherland could barely stand up straight
inside it. In spite of the small confines, Professor Sutherland was
nevertheless forced to wear a heavy rusted metal chain while caged within
the Horse Stalls. Pls' Exh. 92 at 88-89.
19. Sanitation conditions were likewise horrible. Although the
hostages were provided with a "urine bottle" into which they could
urinate when necessary, they were permitted only one brief trip a day to
the toilet facilities, regardless of whether they were ill or had a need
to go more often. On some occasions even the urine bottles were taken
away from the hostages as punishment. See Pls' Exh. 92 at 170-71. When
the hostages had diarrhea or otherwise had to use the toilet facilities,
they were forced to make do with what they
had, wherever they were at the
time, thereby leaving them in various unhealthy and embarrassing
situations. Flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and other bugs were always
present in large numbers and were another aspect of the filthy conditions
in which the hostages were forced to live.
20. Likewise, Professor Sutherland and his fellow hostages were
provided with inadequate and infrequent opportunities to bathe or shower.
The hostages and their clothes were frequently filthy, owing to the
generally poor and inadequate conditions in which they were forced to
21. The dungeons in which the hostages were forced to live were often
too hot and steamy in warm weather and too cold in the winter. In
addition, the outside air flow was always poor, at best. Professor
Sutherland and his fellow hostages were forced to endure months and years
of these conditions with no relief from the hot weather, and insufficient
blankets and clothes for the cold weather.
22. Professor Sutherland and his fellow hostages were also forced to
wear their blindfolds at all times. Although they would pull them up
when their Hizbollah captors were not present, any time the captors were
present they insisted that the hostages wear blindfolds. At trial,
Professor Sutherland demonstrated for the Court the blindfold he was
wearing when he was released in 1991, see Pls' Exh. 90, and the manner in
which he wore it.
23. Because the hostages were usually chained to the floor, a wall,
and/or to another hostage, they also suffered from a lack of regular
exercise. Professor Sutherland and Terry Anderson both testified about
the difficulty, in many of the locations in which they were held, of
moving around and getting their muscles working. Professor Sutherland's
daughters testified that when he was released from captivity in 1991,
Professor Sutherland had a great deal of difficulty lifting things and
standing up straight. He also had very swollen feet and had difficulty
wearing shoes and walking for many months following his release.
24. Professor Sutherland and his fellow hostages also had to subsist
on a bland and mundane diet consisting usually of bread, cheese, and
tea. Although sometimes they were provided with fruit, the hostages
generally received little variety in their diet.
25. Professor Sutherland and Terry Anderson also testified about the
manner by which they were transported between dungeons in the city to
those in the Bekaa Valley and vice versa. On those occasions, which took
place at least a half-dozen times, Professor Sutherland and the other
hostages were wrapped like mummies from head to toe in brown duct tape.
They were left with only a small slit around the nose from which they
were to breathe. Each were then slid under the false bottom of a
transport truck, where they sometimes had to breathe the truck's exhaust
for the several hour journey to their next dungeon. Upon arrival, the
hostages then had the duct tape "ripped" unceremoniously from their
body, which caused a great deal of pain, especially on places containing
26. Throughout his captivity, Professor Sutherland and his fellow
hostages were subjected to various degrees of psychological torture and
abuse. Professor Sutherland (and Father Jenco via an old audiotape)
testified, for example, about one occasion in which the five hostages
together in 1985 — Sutherland, Anderson, Jenco, Jacobsen and Weir
— had to vote on which among them would be released. Sutherland
was told by his captors that he would not be released. The vote was thus
between the other four. After several ballots in which Terry Anderson
uniformly received four votes to David Jacobsen's
one vote, the hostages
decided that Anderson would be the one released. Each hostage then wrote
letters and otherwise prepared for Anderson's departure. The Hizbollah
captors then informed the hostages that Reverend Weir would be the one
released, not Terry Anderson. This experience devastated Anderson for a
period of time.
27. On another occasion, according to Professor Sutherland, the
Hizbollah captors came into the dungeon one evening and escorted Father
Jenco out, telling him to "prepare to die." Father Jenco was taken
blindfolded to the roof of the twelve-story building and again told to
"prepare to die." Father Jenco said some prayers and announced, "I am
ready." His Hizbollah captors ripped off his blindfold and laughed
hysterically. They said to Father Jenco, "you no die, you no die" and
"look, see moon." Father Jenco was taken back to his dungeon cell where,
according to Professor Sutherland, he was shaking like a leaf as he
retold the story to the other hostages.
28. In Professor Sutherland's case, the Hizbollah captors, in the
entire six and one-half years of his captivity, permitted only two
letters written by him to reach the outside world. See Pls' Exhs. 2, 3.
Both were written in mid to late 1985, meaning that Professor
Sutherland's family had no word from him in a period of more than six
years. Similarly, with only two or three exceptions, no messages from
Professor Sutherland's family — of which there were many —
were received by Professor Sutherland in the entire time of his
captivity. The only exceptions were messages printed in the local Arabic
press that Jean Sutherland had published on important dates like
birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Christmas, and Valentine's Day. See
Pls' Exh. 4. Professor Sutherland testified that he was once shown such a
message with a family photograph on Valentine's Day, 1988. See Pls'
Exh. 92 at 243. This was the first time he had learned about Simone, his
granddaughter. He wondered who she was and concluded, after some
thought, that Ann must have married and that Simone was his first
29. Importantly, however, things like the compelling 1988 video
Christmas message prepared by daughters Kit and Joan, and reviewed by the
Court — as well as the annual Remembrance Day and numerous other
activities engaged in by the family — never reached Professor
Sutherland. This lack of communication, indeed, the almost total absence
of family information, was devastating to Professor Sutherland's morale,
and to the hopes and spirits of his family. So total was this
devastation that when Professor Sutherland was released he openly
wondered to his family why they had not done anything on his behalf or
tried to contact him. His family, of course, was devastated by this
remark, because each had in one way or another immersed themselves in
ways to keep Professor Sutherland's plight and memory alive and to obtain
his early release.
30. Professor Sutherland was treated particularly badly by his
Hizbollah captors because they erroneously believed he was an agent of
the CIA. This ill treatment was consistent with his captors' treatment
of other CIA personnel. They previously had killed hostage William
Buckley in June, 1985, the same month Professor Sutherland was taken
hostage. In fact, Professor Sutherland was not part of the CIA and had
no association with the CIA. His Hizbollah captors nevertheless
suspected he was in the CIA, because they had discovered the Islam Today
paper that Jean Sutherland had placed in Professor Sutherland's
briefcase, unbeknownst to him. The subject matter of the paper,
with the fact that at that time there were no word processors or
computers in Lebanon that could "right justify" the margins of a
document, aroused the suspicions of the Hizbollah captors.
31. When questioned about the document, Professor Sutherland denied
knowing of its existence. His Hizbollah captors did not believe him,
however, and began calling Professor Sutherland "kizzab, kizzab," which
meant "liar, liar." Professor Sutherland's denials seemed only to fuel
his captors' harassment of him. They harassed him on and off for years
about being a CIA member.
32. On other occasions, the Hizbollah captors physically abused and
tortured Professor Sutherland and the other hostages. In November 1986,
Professor Sutherland reached his nadir as a hostage. He was brutally
beaten for having been caught looking out a window at night while waiting
for his turn to urinate. Upon being caught, Professor Sutherland was
taken to a room and forced to lie on his back. While one Hizbollah
captor held Professor Sutherland's feet up, another beat the soles of his
feet with a rubber truncheon. The captors then beat Professor Sutherland
from head to toe with the rubber truncheon, leaving him black and blue
all over his body. See Pls' Exh. 92 at 170-72.
33. For the next several weeks, Professor Sutherland was kept
underground in solitary confinement in total darkness, with no candle or
other source of light. He was fed food in a way that left him with no
idea what he was being fed or how he was to eat it. Professor
Sutherland's anger and frustration with this inhumane treatment led him
to attempt suicide on three occasions. He described at trial how he
attempted suffocation by placing a plastic trash bag over his head and
then experimenting with it to cut off the air flow. On each of the three
occasions, Professor Sutherland started feeling woozy and lightheaded.
He testified, however, that each time he started losing consciousness and
had reached a state of "semistupor," he had a vision of a photograph of
his wife and three daughters. The photograph depicts Jean and the three
Sutherland daughters with big, beautiful smiles in front of a stone
fireplace. Pls' Exh. 16. That vision led him to conclude that he could
not carry out his suicide. See Pls' Exh. 92 at 172-73.
34. From this nadir, things gradually improved, as Professor
Sutherland pulled out of the depression into which he had sunk. Terry
Anderson testified at trial about how low Professor Sutherland had sunk,
and how hard his fellow hostages worked to "bring him back." Even so,
conditions generally remained very poor and, in reality, Professor
Sutherland being "brought back" only meant that he, like the other
hostages, simply learned how to deal with the circumstances with which
they were presented.
35. Each hostage found his own way to deal with his particular
circumstances. Professor Sutherland, a native of Scotland, testified
that he found great solace and comfort in the poems of Robert Burns, many
of which he knew by heart. When not in solitary confinement, Professor
Sutherland and his hostages attempted to deal with the unending boredom
by spending hours and hours talking amongst themselves about all manner
36. In the latter years of their captivity, Professor Sutherland and
the other hostages were sometimes provided with a radio, sometimes with a
television, and sometimes with books. Of course, these meager and
late-arriving efforts at humanity on the part of the Hizbollah captors in
no way compensated for the enduring hell the hostages suffered.
37. It was clear to Professor Sutherland and the other hostages that
they were being held by Hizbollah at Iran's direction. Several events
pointed to this conclusion. Among other clues, the captors variously
identified themselves as part of Hizbollah, the Islamic Jihad, and other
organizations that Anderson and Sutherland knew were agents of Iran. In
addition, throughout much of their captivity, the Iran-Iraq war was
ongoing. Professor Sutherland testified that the captors' demeanor
improved when Iranian troops scored a victory or were nearing Baghdad.
Conversely, when there was an Iranian setback, the captors' demeanor
worsened. Perhaps most tellingly, when the Ayatollah Khomeini died in
June 1989, the captors went into mourning. Pls' Exh. 92 at 296. In
addition, just prior to Professor Sutherland's release from captivity on
November 18, 1991, the Tehran Times "predicted" that British hostage
Terry Waite and an American hostage would be released "soon." Id. at
38. As the trial testimony revealed, Weir, Jenco, and Jacobsen were
released from captivity in 1985 and 1986 as a result of the ill-fated
Iran/Contra arms for hostages deal. When that arrangement became
public, the release of American hostages ceased, although citizens of the
United States continued to be taken hostage. See Appendix III to Pls'
Exh. 92. It was not until 1990 that releases of American hostages
resumed, with the bulk of the hostage releases occurring in 1991.
39. Professor Sutherland was released on November 18, 1991. He was
taken blindfolded to a spot in the Bekaa Valley where his blindfold was
removed and he was turned over to Syrian authorities. He and Terry
Waite, who was also released that day, were taken to Damascus, Syria,
where they held an impromptu press conference. From there, Professor
Sutherland was flown to Wiesbaden, Germany where he was given a physical
and other examinations. It was in Wiesbaden that Professor Sutherland
finally met up with Jean and his daughters Kit and Joan. Ann was unable
to make the trip because she was nearly nine months pregnant with her
second child, William.
40. Unfortunately, Professor Sutherland's release coincided with a
family tragedy. Only thirty-six hours prior to his release, his
father-in-law, Jean's father, died of cancer in Ames, Iowa. Professor
Sutherland emotionally testified at trial that when he learned of the
news, he could not have been hurt more "had he been hit with a hammer."
41. Following several days in Germany, Professor Sutherland and his
family flew to San Francisco, where they met Ann and her husband Ray,
and, for the first time, his granddaughter Simone. Although he picked
Simone up and held her, Professor Sutherland's daughters testified that
he had to brace himself to do it and that he could not hold her long,
given that he had gone without regular exercise for so long. The family
celebrated Thanksgiving together before Tom and Jean returned to
42. Upon his return to Colorado, Professor Sutherland received
invitations from all over the country to speak about his experience.
Professor Sutherland accepted nearly every invitation he received,
effectively becoming a "hostage to being a hostage."
43. Professor Sutherland was interested in resuming his career as a
college administrator. He had even been told by the President of
Colorado State University that he could have any job he wanted.
However, when Professor Sutherland applied for administrative positions
at Colorado State and other colleges and universities, he was uniformly
rejected. He was given a variety of excuses for his rejection,
one citing his lack of "knowledge of diversity." Professor Sutherland
suspected that the rejections had more to do with the fact that he was in
his early sixties. In fact, Professor Sutherland's six and one-half
years as a hostage had destroyed his academic and administrative career.
He had been pulled out of the "academic mix" at a time when he was on a
clear upward trend, obliterating any future opportunities. His daughter
Ann, currently a Professor at the University of Virginia, testified how
advances in academia occur. She concurred that his captivity had
effectively ended her father's career.
44. When no academic positions became available, Professor Sutherland
and Jean returned to Beirut in 1993 to visit AUB as part of an NBC News
documentary. He was denied entry to AUB, however, because he was told he
was a controversial person on campus and considered "an embarrassment" to
45. With the dearth of available jobs and the inevitable drying up of
demands on his time as a speaker, Professor Sutherland and Jean turned to
writing a book about the experience. The book, titled At Your Own Risk,
was published in 1996, but sales were disappointing.
46. As the foregoing details, Professor Sutherland has been
permanently deprived of many things as the result of his six and one-half
years as a hostage. His career was ended in its prime. He missed
irreplaceable moments in his family's life, such as his daughter Ann's
wedding, the birth of his first grandchild, Ann's graduation with a
Ph.D., his daughter Joan's 21st birthday celebration, and his father
in-law's funeral. Likewise, he missed, year after year, the regularly
scheduled holidays, such as Valentine's Day, the Fourth of July,
Thanksgiving, and Christmas, all of which have special meaning to
close-knit families such as the Sutherlands. The family companionship he
missed on those days simply cannot be replaced.
47. Although Professor Sutherland appears in many ways to have
recovered from his ordeal as a hostage, it is clear to the Court that he
will never completely recover from the experience. Professor Sutherland
testified that he was told that it typically takes hostages a period as
long as their captivity to recover psychologically from this experience.
Professor Sutherland also testified that in retrospect he believed that
assessment is correct. In fact, only within the last year or two has
Professor Sutherland felt that he has put the terrible events of
1985-1991 somewhat behind him.
48. Jean Sutherland, who was born and raised in Iowa, is a citizen of
the United States.
49. When Jean heard that her husband Tom had been taken hostage, her
first reaction was numbness and disbelief. After telephoning her
daughters and various family and friends, Jean decided that her best
course was to return to Beirut. Her purpose in doing so was two-fold.
First, she wanted to be closer physically to Tom and thereby hopefully be
in a better posture to obtain his release. Second, she wanted to
continue what she saw as Tom's and her mission at AUB. As she explained
in At Your Own Risk, "I was there to share with Tom in carrying on the
work of education that we'd gone there to do, to teach young people, to
give them a chance at a life, and to make positive input into a very
negative environment so that conflict could be resolved and captives
released with no more being abducted." Pls' Exh. 92 at 147.
50. This choice, necessitated by Professor Sutherland's abduction,
in the Sutherland daughters losing both parents.
Jean Sutherland spent the vast majority of the next six and one-half
years in Beirut. She was able to attend Ann's wedding, but could stay
only four days. When granddaughter Simone was born, Jean was able to
spend less than twenty-four hours with Ann and Simone. She missed Ann's
Ph.D. graduation. She also missed being there to offer guidance and
assistance to Kit and Joan as they tried to make life-altering decisions
about their careers and directions in life.
51. Even when Jean was in the United States visiting one or more of
her daughters, she could not be devoted to them exclusively. As time
went on, Jean became actively engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations
with political and other key figures in an effort to obtain Tom's
release. She was unable to share this fact, or any details about the
negotiations, with her daughters. When she was at one of their homes she
often had to spend much of the time sealed off in a room on the telephone
engaged in these activities. Thus, even when Jean was physically present
in the United States, she could not really be there for her daughters or
fully enjoy their company. This was as painful to her as to them and a
guilt she still carries.
52. Jean's presence in Beirut also essentially cut her off from her
daughters. Since Professor Sutherland's captivity occurred before the
general availability of e-mail, Jean's only contact from Beirut with her
daughters was via telephone, cable, or mail. Using the telephone was
both expensive and unreliable, since the state of affairs in Lebanon made
telephone service, especially with long distance calls, erratic at best.
53. In the Fall of 1985, Jean received her Ph.D. She had planned for
many years to pursue a career as a professor of English Literature.
Professor Sutherland's abduction, however, resulted in Jean putting that
dream on hold. Ultimately Jean was unable to pursue this career. She
totally devoted herself to the cause of Tom's release the entire time he
was captive. When Tom was released in November 1991, Jean, likewise,
totally devoted herself in the ensuing years to assisting Professor
Sutherland and meeting his various needs as he attempted to readjust his
life to something resembling normalcy.
54. Jean testified that Professor Sutherland's captivity was very
trying, emotionally and otherwise, on her and her family. She explained
that for the first four years or so, she was able to deal with the
situation on a fairly even keel. Eventually, however, the stress of going
month after month with no end in sight began to take its toll. She began
to gain weight and became increasingly depressed. Eventually she boxed
up everything in the Sutherlands' Beirut house so that she could be ready
to move whenever necessary.
55. Jean also suffered from what she termed "survivor's guilt"
— she felt guilty about eating good food, being able to walk
freely, and generally doing anything that she knew Tom was unable to do
as a hostage. She had frequent "anxiety attacks." She also felt extreme
guilt about having to choose between Tom's situation and their daughters
and about putting the paper in his briefcase that gave him so much
suffering and not being able to be in contact with him. She still
carries this guilt, devoting as much time to her husband and daughters as
possible since Tom's release in order to try to make up for the ways she
felt she "failed them." In addition, as time wore on in the captivity
years, Jean became extremely lonely, especially because she was in Beirut
and without any of her family support structure.
56. Jean was only able to return to the United States once or twice a
year. She tried to time her trips to coincide with events such as the
annual anniversary of Tom's abduction, so that she could participate in
the Remembrance Day celebrations at Colorado State University that her
daughters had arranged. Essentially everything she did during her
husband's six and one-half years of captivity was done with the goal of
getting Tom released.
57. Finances during Professor Sutherland's captivity were also a
problem. Although Jean obtained a teaching job when she returned to
Beirut in 1985, it was at a significantly reduced rate, approximately
$1,200 per month. Although AUB continued to pay Tom's salary during his
captivity, in 1987 AUB began paying Jean in Lebanese pounds, which
effectively reduced her monthly salary to $80 per month. See Pls' Exh.
92 at 238. Thus, money was very tight for Jean throughout this period,
especially with the cost of her necessary travels.
58. Shortly before Tom was released in November 1991, Jean learned
from her stepmother that her father was near death. At the same time,
the Tehran Times was reporting that an American would be released soon,
along with Terry Waite. Having no assurance that the American would be
Tom and having been through many previous false alarms, Jean headed for
Iowa. In London at the airport, Jean learned that her father had died.
Subsequently, while at the Newark airport, Jean telephoned Tom's brothers
in Scotland to advise them of her father's death. At that point she
learned that Tom had been released, and that Tom's brothers were en route
from Scotland to Wiesbaden, Germany. Jean relayed this information to
her daughters and reversed course for Germany. Kit and Joan also made
arrangements to fly to Wiesbaden. In doing so, all of them missed Jean's
father's funeral, which was held a few days later in Iowa. See Pls'
Exh. 92 at 357-58.
59. After Tom's and Jean's return to Colorado, it took considerable
time — years according to Jean — for life to return to some
normalcy for the Sutherlands. Jean testified about how Tom's career had
been cut off, and about how her own hoped-for academic career had never
gotten off the ground — all because of Tom's having been taken
hostage and held for six and one-half years. She, like Tom and their
daughters, testified compellingly about her loss of companionship with
Tom and each of her daughters as a result of this experience.
60. Jean testified compellingly that in a real sense, the Sutherland
family can never put Tom's abduction and captivity behind them, both
because of the deep and lasting impact the experience had on each of
them, and because Tom continues to this day always to be "former hostage
Thomas Sutherland." Thus, he remains a hostage to having been a
61. Ann Sutherland is the oldest of the Sutherlands' three daughters.
Ann is a Professor of Anatomy at the University of Virginia and lives in
Charlottesville, Virginia. She is a citizen of the United States.
62. As the eldest child, Ann had an extremely close relationship with
her parents, and sought their guidance on many aspects of her life. In
particular, Ann and her father spent many hours discussing where she
should attend college and what her career path should be. Thomas
Sutherland ultimately exercised a great deal of influence over Ann's
decision to pursue a career in academics.
Ann was twenty-six years old when her father was taken hostage. At that
time, Ann was finishing her post-graduate education at the University of
California San Francisco and living in Berkeley, California.
Although her father's kidnapping had a devastating impact on her life,
Ann felt she was forced by events to continue on with her life. When Ann
graduated in 1988 with her Ph.D. in anatomy, she initially did not want
to attend her graduation ceremony without her parents. Her sisters
convinced Ann that it was important to attend the ceremony, even without
Several key events occurred in Ann's life while Thomas Sutherland was
held hostage. Ann began a serious relationship with Ray Keller, whom she
eventually married. Ann and Ray initially held off on getting married,
because Ann did not want to have the ceremony while her father remained a
hostage. When Ann became pregnant, Ann and Ray married in an informal
ceremony held in a friend's backyard, thinking that they would have a
larger, more traditional ceremony after her father had been released. As
the years passed and her father remained a hostage, the second ceremony
seemed pointless and was never held.
In March 1987, Ann gave birth to Simone, the Sutherlands' first
grandchild. Jean Sutherland, who happened to be in the United States for
a few days, was able to visit the hospital for only a few hours to meet
her first grandchild before she headed back to Beirut. This visit was
one of the rare occasions on which Ann saw her mother during her father's
captivity. During the entire hostage crisis, Ann felt isolated from her
mother. Moreover, because both her parents were absent for such a
lengthy time, as the eldest daughter she became like a mother to her
Ann often felt guilty that her busy life in California prevented her
from spending more time helping her sisters Kit and Joan deal with the
media and organize remembrance ceremonies for their father. In
particular, she struggled with feelings that she was not doing enough for
her father and concern that he would feel that way. See Pls' Exh. 92 at
387. She also felt guilty about the fact that she was living a normal
life in the United States while her father was a hostage. These feelings
of guilt continue to plague her today.
When Ann learned in November 1991 that her father had been released,
she was unable to fly to Wiesbaden with the family to meet her father
because she was almost nine months pregnant with her second child. She
remained in Berkeley, watching and reading media accounts of her father's
release. She was reunited with her father on November 25, 1991, when the
Sutherland family joined Ann and her family in Berkeley for
Ann saw very little of her parents in the years following her father's
release. Her parents were busy traveling across the United Stated giving
speeches, and as a result, Ann, like her sisters, felt isolated from
them. As Ann explained at trial, in some ways it was if her father had
not been released because she did not see any more of him than while he
was a hostage.
70. Only recently has Ann felt that the Sutherland family has started
to truly heal from her father's abduction and captivity.
Katherine ("Kit") Sutherland
Kit Sutherland, the second of the Sutherlands' daughters, currently
lives in Parker, Colorado. She is a citizen of the United States. Kit
was twenty-four years old when her father was kidnapped. Kit, who at
that time was helping a friend run a kennel in Colorado, received a phone
from her mother, who told her that her father had been taken
hostage. Kit subsequently relayed the shocking news of her father's
kidnapping to her younger sister Joan, who was living with her at the
Prior to her father's kidnapping, Kit was close to both parents.
Because she had spent part of her teenage years living with her parents
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1976-78, Kit felt that she had developed a
closer bond with her parents than had many American teenagers. Kit
relied heavily on both parents for guidance and support, especially when
it came to important issues such as her education and future career.
Kit had just graduated from the University of Colorado when her father
was taken captive. At the time, Kit was trying to decide what kind of
career she should pursue. Her father's kidnapping and captivity, and the
subsequent media attention directed at her family, made it impossible for
Kit to focus on choosing and starting a career. She essentially put her
life "on hold" for the entire period of her father's captivity.
Of the Sutherlands' three daughters, Kit took it upon herself to
represent the family vis-a-vis the media. Kit fielded countless
telephone calls from the media over the six and one-half years of
Professor Sutherland's captivity. She also organized events to keep her
father's memory alive in Colorado and in the United States. These events
included ribbon ceremonies, speeches, petitions, and meetings with
politicians, such as then-Secretary General of the United Nations Javier
Perez de Cueller.
While Kit willingly accepted her role as media spokesperson for the
family, she felt that she had little time for herself and, as a
consequence, was unable to find any direction in her life. As a result,
she took non-career path jobs offered to her. As Kit stated in a video
Christmas message that she and Joan made for her father in captivity
(which he never received), she and her sisters were "existing, but not
living." See Pls' Exh. 91.
It was especially devastating to Kit to learn after her father's
release that he had received no information during his captivity of the
efforts she and her family had made to communicate with him and to keep
his memory alive, and that he had wondered why his family had forgotten
him (which, of course, they had not).
Kit, like her sisters, rarely had the opportunity to speak with her
mother, who was living in Beirut and focused on assisting with the
efforts to free the Beirut hostages. The loss of her mother's advice and
companionship, coupled with the loss of her father, left Kit feeling
extremely bereft. As detailed above, even when Jean was in the United
States or "home," she had little to no time to truly be with her
After her father's release, Kit acted as her father's secretary,
helping him deal with the thousands of letters, phone calls and
invitations he received. She was dismayed that her father, even after
his release, seemed a hostage to his captivity, and rarely had time to
rest or spend time with his family.
It has only been in the last year or so that Kit has felt the
Sutherland family has begun to recuperate somewhat from Professor
Sutherland's years as a hostage.
Joan Sutherland is the youngest of the Sutherland children and is a
citizen of the United States. She resides in Gresham, Oregon, a suburb
of Portland. Joan had not yet turned twenty-one when she received the
news of her father's kidnapping. Her father had planned on returning
Beirut for her twenty-first birthday party on July 2, 1985. A major
celebration had been planned.
As the youngest child, Joan had received a lot of attention and
affection from both of her parents. She turned to her father for advice
on all sorts of topics, from mundane issues such as car repair to more
important issues, such as what sort of career she should pursue.
Her father's kidnapping, and the isolation from both her parents that
it caused, devastated Joan. She felt lost without her father's advice,
and floated through life, unable to make any major decisions. She took a
number of menial jobs that held no interest for her.
Once, in November 1985, while Joan was attending flight attendant
school in California, she was awakened early in the morning by a
telephone call informing her that her father had been executed. Although
this information later proved to be false, it made carrying on with the
day-to-day activities of life nearly unbearable for Joan.
Joan helped her sister Kit deal with the media and organized
remembrance ceremonies for her father, which included delivering
petitions to the United Nations in New York. She too essentially put her
life "on hold" while her father was a hostage. It was important to her,
as it was to the other Sutherland family members, that Professor
Sutherland know that his family was doing everything it could to keep his
memory alive. Likewise, it was devastating to Joan to learn after her
father's release that he had no knowledge of the things she and her
family had been doing for him, and that he had wondered why his family
had forgotten him.
After her father's release, Joan hoped to spend as much time as
possible with her parents. Unfortunately, both parents were busy dealing
with the media and traveling across the country to give speeches. Joan
felt frustrated and angry that she was still isolated from her parents.
Like the other Sutherlands, Joan feels that even with her father's
release in 1991, each of the family was, and continues to be, hostage to
his having been a hostage.
It is only within the last year or so that Joan has felt that the
family can truly relax and spend time together again as a family.
Hizbollah And Its Iranian Support
88. Hizbollah, which means "Party of God," was established in Lebanon
in 1982, soon after the Israelis invaded southern Lebanon. Hizbollah was
formed with the guidance and financial support of the government of the
Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian government desired to establish a
militant organization that would use armed force to oppose the Israeli
presence in Lebanon and to counter Western influence in the country. The
Iranian government, through MOIS, saw the Shiite population of Lebanon
— historically at the lowest rung of Lebanese society — as an
opportunity and a vehicle to gain influence in the area and thereby
further Iran's various political goals.
89. Iran provided support to Hizbollah in a variety of ways. For
example, two thousand soldiers from the Revolutionary Guard unit of the
Iranian military set up headquarters in the Bekaa Valley to create
Hizbollah. The Iranian government supplied funds, military arms,
training, and supplies to Hizbollah. The Iranian government also issued
propaganda to encourage Lebanese Shiites, who greatly admired Iran, to
join the organization. In addition, the Iranian government helped fund
Hizbollah's charitable activities, which created
a network from which
Hizbollah could solicit recruits and hide its clandestine activities,
such as the kidnapping of foreign nationals.
90. In the early 1980s it was well-known that Iran was providing
funding and other support to the Hizbollah party. Indeed, as a recruiting
technique, Hizbollah itself went out of its way to emphasize how much
support it was receiving from Iran.
91. Hizbollah had used several names in its terrorist campaign,
including the Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Jihad, and the Revolutionary
92. Since its inception, Hizbollah has engaged in a variety of
terrorist activities to make its message known to the world, including
the kidnapping of foreign nationals. Hizbollah's goals in kidnapping
foreign nationals included securing the release of terrorists imprisoned
in Kuwait and other locations, driving Westerners out of Lebanon, and
publicizing its political causes. In seizing the various American hostages
Hizbollah seized in the 1980s, the idea was to strike at interests of the
United States by seizing a hostage from various American institutions.
Thus, for example, Hizbollah kidnapped, among others, a Catholic priest
(Jenco), a Presbyterian minister (Weir), an Associated Press reporter
(Anderson), an official of the AUB Hospital (Jacobsen) and a Dean of
Agriculture at AUB (Sutherland).
93. Hizbollah, funded by MOIS and Iran, was responsible for the
kidnapping and captivity of Thomas Sutherland.
94. MOIS is an Iranian government organization which was formally
established by law in 1983, but which appears to be an outgrowth of the
secret police under the former Shah of Iran. During the Shah's reign, the
organization was called the Organization for Information and Security.
95. MOIS currently has about 3,000 employees, and is the largest spy
service in the Middle East. MOIS is responsible for coordinating Iran's
terrorist activities. MOIS has many institutional links with the
96. Since the 1980s, MOIS has worked closely with Hizbollah to support
its terrorist activities in Lebanon. For example, MOIS assisted
Hizbollah in collecting information about potential kidnapping targets
and planning the prison networks to hold the kidnapping victims.
97. Iran currently spends approximately $100 million per year
or more on terrorist activities.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Based on the events described above, the plaintiffs make the following
A. Thomas M. Sutherland sues The Islamic Republic of
Iran and the Iranian Ministry of Information and
Security for (1) battery, (2) assault, (3) false
imprisonment, (4) loss of consortium, and (5)
intentional infliction of emotional distress.
B. Jean Sutherland sues The Islamic Republic of Iran
and the Iranian Ministry of Information and
Security for (1) loss of consortium, (2)
intentional infliction of emotional distress, and
(3) loss of solatium.
C. Ann Elizabeth Sutherland, Katherine Lee
Sutherland, and Joan Murray Sutherland sue The
Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Ministry
of Information and Security for (1) loss of
Complaint, Dec. 13, 1999, at 11-14. The Court is therefore faced
with the following three questions, which it answers in the order
(1) Are the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian
Ministry of Information
and Security immune from
the plaintiffs' claims?;
(2) If not immune, are The Islamic Republic of Iran
and the Iranian Ministry of Information and
Security liable under the claims alleged?; and
(3) If the defendants are found liable, to what
damages are the plaintiffs' entitled?
A. Foreign Sovereign Immunity*fn2
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA") grants foreign states
immunity from liability in United States courts. See 28 U.S.C. § 1602
et seq. In 1998, however, Congress specifically suspended this immunity
for personal injuries "caused by an act of torture, extrajudicial
killing, aircraft sabotage, hostage taking, or the provision of material
support or resources . . . for such an act."*fn3
28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7). The injurious act (or the provision of
resources in support thereof), to give rise to liability, must be
committed by "an official, employee, or agent of a foreign state, while
acting within the scope of his or her office." 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7).
The Court first finds that, based on the evidence presented at trial
and recounted above, Thomas M. Sutherland was taken hostage and tortured
within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7). That Mr. Sutherland
was taken hostage and detained for over six years is, of course, patently
undeniable. With respect to torture, the Court finds that the
deprivation of adequate food, light, toilet facilities, and medical care
for over six years amounts to torture within the meaning of section
1605(a)(7).*fn4 Moreover, there at least one specific instance of
outright physical torture, when Sutherland was beaten with a rubber
hose. See Tr. at 199-203 (explaining living conditions and physical
The Court next finds that, based on the evidence presented at trial and
recounted above, Mr. Sutherland's kidnapping and torture were committed
by agents of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hizbollah. This conclusion
is supported by the testimony of several witnesses. For example,
Sutherland's co-hostage, Terry Anderson, testified that their captors
were "very, very pro-Iranian," and that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were
involved in the kidnapping and detention of the hostages. See Tr. at
116. Anderson further testified
that he and his co-hostages knew that
they were being held in Hizbollah territory, and at one point, were even
held at Hizbollah headquarters. See Tr. at 116. Moreover, several years
after his release, Anderson interviewed the secretary general of
Hizbollah who as much as admitted to the kidnappings. See Tr. at 118.
Sutherland also testified as to the identity of his captors. The
captors, according to Sutherland, were clearly part of an Islamic Jihad
group, who, when the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini was reported, wept
quite openly. See Tr. at 238.
Perhaps that most persuasive evidence that Sutherland's captors were
members of Hizbollah came from Ambassador Robert Oakley and Dr. Patrick
Clawson. Oakley, a former advisor to the National Security Council on
Middle East affairs, testified bluntly on this subject. Consider the
following colloquy from trial:
Q. Is there any doubt in your mind [Ambassador Oakley]
that through that period of 1985 through 1991 that
the Hizbollah, backed by Iran, financially and
otherwise, was holding Tom Sutherland as a hostage?
A. No, there [is] none.
See Tr. at 21. Dr. Patrick Clawson, an experienced researcher and writer
on Iranian politics, testified similarly. When asked by the Court
whether Sutherland was "initially seized by Hizbollah . . . and held by
them throughout the time?", Clawson responded "Yes, your Honor." Tr. at
Further support for the conclusion that Sutherland was captured and
detained by Hizbollah is provided by precedent. For instance, in
Anderson v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, 90 F. Supp.2d 107, 113 (D.D.C.
2000), the Court found that Terry Anderson, Sutherland's co-hostage for
almost his entire captivity, was captured by Hizbollah and that "Iran
provided Hizbollah*fn5 with funding, direction and training for its
terrorist activities in Lebanon, including the kidnapping and torture of
Terry Anderson." See also Cicippio v. The Islamic Republic of Iran,
18 F. Supp.2d 62, 68 (D.D.C. 1998) (finding that Hizbollah was
responsible for the kidnapping and detention of David Jacobson, a
co-hostage of Sutherland and Anderson).
In addition to finding that Sutherland was seized by Hizbollah, the
Court also finds that The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian MOIS
provided "material support or resources" to Hizbollah within the meaning
of 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7). The most persuasive testimony on this
issue came from Sutherland's experts, Ambassador Oakley, Robert
McFarlane, and Dr. Clawson. Ambassador Oakley testified that "radical
elements highly placed within the government of Iran are giving
operational policy advice to terrorists in Iran, specifically terrorists
operating under the name Islamic Jihad or Hizbollah." Tr. at 19.
Similarly, Robert McFarlane, former National Security Advisor, testified
that Hizbollah was a "terrorist group . . . formed in the early 1980s
under the sponsorship of the government of Iran." Tr. at 29; see also
Tr. at 31 (opining that Hizbollah was formed with the "volunteering of
[Iranian] financial support" as well as "Iranian personnel"). Finally,
Dr. Clawson testified that the Iranian government and the Iranian MOIS
were behind the formation and funding of Hizbollah, and that Hizbollah is
very much under the control of the Iranian government. See Tr. at
Iran's provision of material support to Hizbollah is further supported
by the weight of precedent. In a case similar to this one, Judge Kotelly
of this Court opined: "it is now the universally held view of the
intelligence community that Iran was responsible for the formation,
funding, training, and management of Hizbollah." Higgins v. The Islamic
Republic of Iran, Civ. A. No. 99-377 (D.D.C. 2000). As well, Judge
Jackson declared in Anderson that the defendants "financed, organized,
armed, and planned Hizbollah operations in Lebanon and elsewhere."
Anderson, 90 F. Supp.2d at 112; see also Flatow v. The Islamic Republic
of Iran, 999 F. Supp. 1, 18 (D.D.C. 1998) (Lamberth, J.) (finding that
The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian MOIS were liable under the
doctrine of respondeat superior for the terrorist acts of the Palestine
Islamic Jihad, whose source of funding was the government of Iran);
Eisenfeld v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9545
(D.D.C. 2000) (stating that "there is no question that Hamas, [an
organization quite similar and related to Hizbollah] received massive
material and technical support from the . . . Islamic Republic of
In summary, the Court finds that Thomas Sutherland was taken hostage
and tortured by the Islamic fundamentalist group Hizbollah. The Court
further finds that the defendants, The Islamic Republic of Iran and the
Iranian MOIS, "provi[ded] . . . material support or resources . . . for
[these] acts." 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7). The Court also finds that the
provision of resources was an act committed by "an official, employee, or
agent of a foreign state, while acting within the scope of his or her
office." 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7). Based on these findings, the Court
therefore concludes that the defendants are not immune from liability in
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1606, a "foreign state . . . not entitled to
immunity . . . shall be liable in the same manner and to the same extent
as a private individual under like circumstances." Applying standard
rules of liability, the Court finds the defendants liable on all counts
alleged in the plaintiffs' complaint. In making that conclusion, the
Court applies federal common law. See Flatow v. The Islamic Republic of
Iran, 999 F. Supp. 1, 14-15 (D.D.C. 1998) (choosing federal common law
after a federal choice of law analysis).
It should be stressed at the outset that the liability determination is
separate and distinct from the immunity determination. Thus, even though
the defendants have been found to have tortured Sutherland — and
therefore are not immune from suit — it does not therefore follow
that they have automatically committed the tort of battery. Of course,
in practice, this is quite often the case. However, failing to
separately address immunity and liability has serious consequences and
should be avoided. First, conflating the two issues obscures the correct
legal analysis. This is turn creates confusing and misleading
precedent, which eventually leads to wrong decisions. This case, and the
several like it which have been decided in this district, will stand as
the bedrock for a body of law that, depending on the future of
international relations, may very well become its own specialty. As
such, it is essential that the founding precedent consist of well
enunciated standards which are applied with a high degree of exactitude.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, the legitimacy of a domestic
judicial decision in the international arena is directly related to the
perceived fairness of the decisionmaking
process. A court that does not
openly announce the rule of law it is applying will be perceived as less
than fair, and therefore illegitimate. Indeed, the failure to explicitly
announce the rule of law in cases like this might create a suspicion that
the court is engaging in jingoism rather than justice. This most
assuredly is not the case, and a structured, transparent analysis is
essential to dispelling such notions.
According to the Restatement (Second) of Torts, a defendant has
committed battery if "he acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive
contact with [a] person", and a "harmful contact with the person . . .
directly or indirectly results." Restatement (Second) of Torts, §
13 (1965); see also Sphere Drake Ins. P.L.C. v. D'Errico, 246 F.3d 682, 2001
WL 135670, at *2 (10th Cir. 2001); United Nat. Ins. Co. v. Penuche's,
Inc., 128 F.3d 28, 32 (1st Cir. 1997).
Based upon the evidence presented in open court, the Court finds that
Thomas Sutherland suffered harmful contact. Sutherland himself testified
as to his repeated rough treatment, of which the most egregious instance
seemed to be his beating with a rubber hose. See Tr. 100, 202-03. These
acts, which were intentionally committed by Sutherland's captors, are
attributable to the defendants because the defendants substantially
funded and controlled Hizbollah. See Section II.A. As such, the
defendants are liable under the tort doctrines of respondeat superior and
joint and several liability. See Flatow, 999 F. Supp. at 26-27 (finding
The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian MOIS liable under the
doctrines of respondeat superior and joint and several liability).
Thus, finding that Thomas Sutherland did indeed suffer a harmful
contact, and that the acts causing such contact were attributable to the
defendants, the Court finds the defendants liable for the battery of
According to the Restatement (Second) of Torts, a defendant has
committed an assault if "he acts intending to cause a harmful or
offensive contact with [a] person, or an imminent apprehension of such a
contact" and the person is "thereby put in such imminent apprehension."
Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 21 (1965); see also Truman v. U.S.,
26 F.3d 592, 596 (5th Cir. 1994); Manning v. Grimsley, 643 F.2d 20, 22
(1st Cir. 1981).
Based upon the evidence presented in open court, the Court finds that
Thomas Sutherland was put in an imminent apprehension of harmful or
offensive conduct. Sutherland lived for over six years in an environment
where, at any moment, he might find himself harassed or beaten for
virtually no reason at all. In this sense, it is not a gross
exaggeration to suggest that Sutherland withstood a continuous 6-year
tortious assault. But the Court need not venture such a holding, there
is ample evidence from Sutherland's testimony as to specific incidents
that qualify as an assault. The most exemplary of these was Sutherland's
kidnapping. During that event, Sutherland's car was side-swiped, forced
to stop, and then surrounded by several men with machine guns. The men
proceeded to shoot randomly in the air, as well as shoot various parts of
Sutherland's car, such as the tires and radiator. See Tr. at 194.
Further, once Sutherland was forced into his captors' car, a gun barrel
was pushed into the nave of his neck and he was told "No looking! I blow
your head off you looking!" Tr. at 194. The Court has no hesitation in
finding that these events are assaults within the definition
used by the
Restatement (Second) or Torts.
These assaults, which were intentionally committed by Sutherland's
captors, are attributable to the defendants because the defendants
substantially funded and controlled Hizbollah. See Section II.A. As
such, the defendants are liable under the tort doctrines of respondeat
superior and joint and several liability. See Flatow, 999 F. Supp. at
26-27 (finding The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian MOIS liable
under the doctrines of respondeat superior and joint and several
Thus, finding that Thomas Sutherland did indeed suffer a many
assaults, and that the tortious acts were attributable to the
defendants, the Court finds the defendants liable for the assault of
3. False Imprisonment
According to the Restatement (Second) of Torts, "[a]n actor is subject
to liability to another for false imprisonment if
(a) he acts intending to confine [a person] within
boundaries fixed by the actor, and
(b) his act directly or indirectly results in such a
confinement of the other, and
(c) the other is conscious of the confinement or is
harmed by it.
Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 35 (1965); King v. Crossland
Sav. Bank, 111 F.3d 251, 255 (2nd Cir. 1997); Richardson v. U.S.
Dept. of Interior, 740 F. Supp. 15, 26 (D.D.C. 1990).
There is no question in the Court's mind, or anyone else's for that
matter, that Thomas Sutherland was falsely imprisoned by Hizbollah for
2,354 days. Further, this imprisonment is attributable to the defendants
because the defendants substantially funded and controlled Hizbollah.
See Section II.A. As such, the defendants are liable under the tort
doctrines of respondeat superior and joint and several liability. See
Flatow, 999 F. Supp. at 26-27 (finding The Islamic Republic of Iran and
the Iranian MOIS liable under the doctrines of respondeat superior and
joint and several liability).
Thus, finding that Thomas Sutherland was indeed falsely imprisoned, and
that the tortious act is attributable to the defendants, the Court finds
the defendants liable for the false imprisonment of Sutherland.
4. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
According to the Restatement (Second) of Torts, "one who by extreme and
outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional
distress to another is subject to liability for such emotional distress."
Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 46 (1986); see also Holbrook v.
Lobdell-Emery Mfg. Co., 219 F.3d 598
, 600 (7th Cir. 2000); Ross v. Saint
Augustine's College, 103 F.3d 338
, 343 (4th Cir. 1996).
Like the previous claims, the Court has little hesitation in finding
that Thomas Sutherland suffered severe emotional distress at the hands of
his captors, Hizbollah. The conduct of Hizbollah, in taking someone
hostage for over six years, is well neigh extreme and outrageous.
Further, the intent to cause such suffering was shown in the repeated
bullying of Sutherland over his supposed involvement with the CIA. See
Tr. at 210-212.
This infliction of extreme distress, which was intentionally caused by
Sutherland's captors, is attributable to the defendants because the
defendants substantially funded and controlled Hizbollah. See Section
II.A. As such, the defendants are liable under the tort doctrines of
respondeat superior and joint and several liability. See
Flatow, 999 F.
Supp. at 26-27 (finding The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian MOIS
liable under the doctrines of respondeat superior and joint and several
Thus, finding that Thomas Sutherland was indeed intentionally inflicted
with emotional distress, and that the infliction is attributable to the
defendants, the Court finds the defendants liable for the emotional
distress of Sutherland.
With respect to Jean Sutherland, the Court also finds that the
defendants are liable for her emotional distress. First, there is no
doubt that Mrs. Sutherland suffered significant emotional distress from
the ordeal. She testified at length about how her husband's capture
isolated her from both her husband and the rest of her family. See Tr.
at 268. After her husband was captured, she decided to move to Beirut.
She worked tenaciously for her husband's release, and as a result only
returned to her family about once a year. See Tr. at 268. Thus, for a
period of over six years, Mrs. Sutherland lived a life of isolation and
dashed hopes. She repeatedly missed important family events, and
suffered repeated anxiety attacks in her efforts to free her husband.
See Tr. at 271-72. In summary, the Court has doubt that Mrs. Sutherland
suffered extreme emotional distress.
Second, the Court finds that this distress was "intentionally or
recklessly cause[d]." Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 46 (1986).
Tort law is clear that one intends a consequence if a person has "in the
mind a purpose (or desire) to bring about given consequences [and] also
. . . [has] in mind a belief (or knowledge) that given consequences are
substantially certain to result from the act." Keeton et al., Prosser &
Keeton on Torts, § 8, at 34 (5th ed. 1983). Moreover, a person
recklessly causes a consequence if that person acts "in disregard of a
known or obvious risk that was so great as to make it highly probable
that [the consequence] would follow." Prosser & Keeton on Torts, §
34, at 213. The Court finds that, when an organization takes someone
hostage, it is implicitly intending to cause emotional distress among the
members of that hostage's immediate family. Further, the Court finds
that an organization taking someone hostage implicitly believes that such
emotional distress is substantially certain to result. These conclusions
are based on the logical inference that a hostage without loved ones
— that is, a hostage without those who will be emotionally
distressed by his absence — is of no value at all to a
hostage-taker. For without loved ones, there is nobody to pay for the
hostage's release. And even if the hostage's country (rather than his
family) pays for his release, a hostage's loved ones play a vital role in
agitating for governmental action. Governments rarely remain complacent
when such complacency could be actively exposed by a hostage's family.
But even if the defendants did not fully intend to cause Jean
Sutherland emotional distress, the Court finds that the defendants acted
in callous disregard of the obvious risk that such emotional distress
would result. In other words, even if the defendants did not intend
Mrs. Sutherland's distress, they recklessly caused it, and are therefore
liable for it in the same way that the defendants are liable for Mr.
Sutherland's emotional distress.
Having found the defendants liable on the counts described above, the
Court next proceeds to the calculation of damages.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act specifically permits plaintiffs
section 1605(a)(7) to pursue "money damages which may include
economic damages, solatium, pain, and suffering." 28 U.S.C. § 1605
note. After reviewing the arguments presented by the plaintiffs, and the
law applicable thereto, the Court makes the following conclusions
1. Compensatory Damages
(a) Thomas M. Sutherland
Thomas M. Sutherland seeks compensatory damages for his battery, false
imprisonment, emotional distress, economic loss, and loss of consortium.
Based on the testimony presented in open court, the Court finds Mr.
Sutherland entitled to the amount he has requested, $23,540,000.
Mr. Sutherland testified at length during the trial as to his daily
suffering over an unconscionable 2,354 days. His experience is
summarized in the Court's Findings of Fact. For his intense suffering,
which ranged from lack of hygiene to loneliness to severe beatings, the
Court awards Mr. Sutherland US$23,400,000.
In setting Mr. Sutherland's damages at this level the Court follows the
formula which has evolved as a standard in hostage cases brought under
section 1605(a)(7). This formula grants the former hostage roughly
$10,000 for each day of his captivity. Thus, Terry Anderson, a co-hostage
of Mr. Sutherland's who was detained slightly longer than Sutherland, was
awarded $24,540,000. See Anderson, 90 F. Supp.2d at 113. Similarly,
Joseph Cicippio, who was held hostage by Hizbollah for 1,908 days,
received $20,000,000; Frank Reed, who was held hostage by Hizbollah for
1,330 days received $16,000,000; and David Jacobson, who was held hostage
by Hizbollah for 532 days received $9,000,000. See Cicippio, 18 F.
Supp.2d at 64, 70.
Any skepticism about the adequacy of this formula must overcome the
steep presumption that Congress has tacitly approved its use. In all of
the above cases, the formula was developed and applied prior to October
28, 2000. On that day, Congress enacted the Victims of Trafficking and
Violence Protection Act of 2000. The Act obligated the United States
Treasury to pay terrorist victims — including the hostages
described above — the amount awarded them at trial, or in other
words, about $10,000 per day of captivity. Congress must be presumed to
have aware of the damages formula, and its failure to amend it in any way
amounts to a tacit approval of the scheme. See Flood v. Kuhn,
407 U.S. 258, 283-284 (1972) (declining to overturn prior precedent where
Congress "by its positive inaction" has allowed prior decisions to
stand). Thus, this Court finds the $23,540,000 to be an appropriate award
for Thomas M. Sutherland.
(b) Jean Sutherland
Jean Sutherland seeks compensatory damages for her emotional distress,
loss of consortium, and solatium. Although Mrs. Sutherland's suffering
is summarized above in the Court's Findings of Fact, it should be noted
here that she withstood extensive loneliness, psychological isolation,
and anxiety. Based on this suffering, the Court finds Mrs. Sutherland
entitled to US $10,000,000.
Like the calculation of Mr. Sutherland's damages, the Court's
calculation of Mrs. Sutherland's damages is guided by previous cases
dealing with substantially the same events. In Anderson v. The Islamic
Republic of Iran, Terry Anderson's wife received $10,000,000, as did the
wives of hostages Joseph Cicippio and Frank Reed in Cicippio v. The
Islamic Republic of Iran. See Anderson, 90 F. Supp.2d at 113;
18 F. Supp.2d at 70. Further, the Court relies on its analysis of
solatium damages in Flatow v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, 999 F. Supp.
at 29-32. All of these factors, taken together with Congress' tacit
approval of previous damage calculations, suggest that Jean Sutherland's
demand of $10,000,000 is merited.
(c) Ann Elizabeth Sutherland, Katherine Lee
Sutherland, and Joan Murray Sutherland
Thomas Sutherland's three daughters seek solatium damages for their
six-and-a-half years of suffering. Their suffering, which consisted of
extensive anxiety, frustration, and loneliness is summarized in the
Court's Findings of Facts listed above. Based on this suffering, the
Court finds that each daughter is entitled to the amount requested,
Besides being supported by the evidence presented in court, the Court's
calculation of damages is consistent with previous awards in
substantially similar cases. For instance, in Flatow, the Court awarded
$2,500,000 to each of sibling of a bombing victim for the suffering they
had undergone. See Flatow, 999 F. Supp. at 32. Similarly, in Anderson,
the court awarded Terry Anderson's daughter $1 million for each year
Anderson was held hostage. Thus, Sulome Anderson was awarded
$6,700,000. See Anderson, 90 F. Supp.2d at 114. Like the above damage
calculations, these calculations can be considered tacitly approved by
Congress in its October 28, 2000 enactment of the Victims of Trafficking
and Violence Protection Act of 2000.
2. Punitive Damages
The Court is finally faced with issue of whether punitive damages
should be levied against the defendants. According to the Restatement
(Second) of Torts, such damages are merited in cases involving
"outrageous conduct." See Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 908(1)
(1965). In the case at hand, the Court has little hesitation finding
that the depraved and uncivilized conduct of the Iranian MOIS qualifies
as outrageous conduct.*fn6 It stole a human being from his family and
— for over six years — blindfolded him, chained him, beat
him, and deprived him of adequate food, clothing, and medical care. Such
treatment is the height of barbarism. Indeed, in most civilized
nations, it is unlawful to treat even a stray dog in such manner.
Thus, finding that punitive damages are merited, the court proceeds to
determine the appropriate amount. In determining the level of punitive
damages to impose, a court is to look at four factors: "the character of
the defendant's act; the nature and extent of harm to plaintiff that the
defendant caused or intended to cause; the need for deterrence; and the
wealth of the defendant." Flatow, 999 F. Supp. at 32 (citing Restatement
(Second) of Torts § 908(1)-(2) (1977)). With regard to the first
factor, the Court has just noted the exceedingly heinous nature of the
Iranian MOIS's acts. With regard to the second factor, the far-reaching
and long-lasting damages caused by these acts were explained above in the
Court's Finding of Facts.
With regard to deterrence, there is a mixture of opinion whether a
monetary penalty from a United States court will have a deterrent effect
on the Iranian MOIS's behavior. Some argue that the
operates in an extrajudicial world, and that judicial penalties will
therefore be ineffectual; others argue that the MOIS's extrajudicial
behavior is exactly the reason to levy greater and greater penalties on
the them. A third view was proffered by Dr. Clawson at trial: the
failure to impose substantial punitive damages after several previous
impositions might be construed by MOIS as a capitulation by the United
States in the debate over the legitimacy of hostage-taking. As such, the
failure to impose punitive damages might actually be construed as a
condonation of MOIS's rogue behavior. See Tr. at 74.
Finally, with regard to the wealth of the defendant, the Court finds
the defendant quite wealthy. As explained above, the Iranian MOIS has
approximately 3000 employees and is the largest spy organization in the
Middle East. The organization is heavily funded by the Iranian
government. As Dr. Clawson testified at trial, the Iranian government
funnels most of its terrorist dollars, somewhere near $100 million,
through the Iranian MOIS. See Tr. at 61. Thus, at the very minimum, the
organization is funded in the hundreds of millions.
The Court, guided by Dr. Clawson's expert opinion as well as previous
decisions on substantially similar cases, finds $300,000,000 in punitive
damages to be merited. That amount is thrice the annual funding provided
by the Iranian government to MOIS. Not only is Dr. Clawson's expert
opinion persuasive, the Court is not at all convinced that punitive
damages are wholly ineffectual. Previous cases awarding punitive damages
against MOIS have only been decided in the past three years. Since that
time, there have been no reported hostage incidents involving Hizbollah
and United States nationals. Further, it is doubtful that the full
punitive effect of the fine has yet taken hold. The process of collecting
an international debt is a long and laborious process, and it is
therefore quite possible that the deterrent effect of the fines has yet
to be fully felt.
Further, $300 million is an amount consistent with the punitive damages
levied several times in the past. See Anderson, 90 F. Supp.2d at 114
(awarding $300 million in punitive damages against MOIS for the
kidnapping and detention of Terry Anderson); Flatow, 999 F. Supp. 34
(awarding $225 million — three times Iran's reported expenditure on
terrorist activities — to the estate of a terrorist victim).
Today's holding is not a foreign policy edict; rather it is an edict on
the rule of law. It is an edict that reaffirms the unflinching principle
that those who intentionally harm United States nationals will be held
accountable for that harm in United States courts.
Thus, for the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that defendants are
liable for the injuries inflicted on Thomas M. Sutherland and his
family. The defendants shall be jointly liable for the following
Thomas M. Sutherland US $23,540,000
Jean Sutherland US $10,000,000
Ann Elizabeth Sutherland US $6,500,000
Katherine Lee Sutherland US $6,500,000
Joan Murray Sutherland US $6,500,000.
Further, the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security shall be liable
to Thomas M. Sutherland for US $300,000,000 in punitive damages. A
separate order consistent with this Opinion shall issue this date.