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Reed v. Islamic Republic of Iran

April 30, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No. 21



This case involves the defendant's alleged support of Hizbollah, a terrorist group that abducted, held and tortured Frank Reed, the plaintiff's father, for more than three years. The plaintiff seeks damages from the Islamic Republic of Iran ("Iran") and the Iranian Ministry of Information Services ("MOIS"), collectively "the defendants," for injuries suffered by the plaintiff resulting from his father's kidnaping.

Presently before the court is the plaintiff's renewed motion for default judgment or "for reconsideration" pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). Because the plaintiff's renewed motion largely rehashes arguments previously rejected by the court, the court denies in part the plaintiff's motion to reconsider. Because the plaintiff convinces the court that its claim for loss of solatium actually alleges loss of consortium (a recognizable claim under the applicable state law), the court grants in part the plaintiff's motion and directs the plaintiff to file an amended complaint.


A. Factual Background

The plaintiff alleges as follows. On September 9, 1986, Frank Reed, the plaintiff's father, was kidnaped by Hizbollah in Lebanon on his way to a golf course. Pl.'s Mot., Attach. A (Fifi Reed Aff.) ¶ 4. During 1,330 days of confinement, Reed was at times blindfolded, resulting in several eye infections, and he was subjected to routine beatings by his captors, who assumed that he worked for the CIA. Pl.'s Mot., Attach. B, (Frank Reed Test.) at 97-99 When Reed once saw one of his captors' faces, he was beaten for four straight days, resulting in kidney damage and causing him to bleed when urinating. Id. at 103. Reed's captors beat him with a grenade, causing him partial hearing loss, kicked him in the ribs causing his ribs to protrude through his skin, and placed a boiling tea kettle on his shoulders causing permanent scarring. Id. at 104-106. Reed was housed in a small cell and chained to the wall such that he was unable to sit down. Id. at 107. Following an escape attempt, Reed was exposed to cold weather wearing little clothing. Id. In addition to this physical torture, Reed was psychologically tortured; his captors promised him he would be released, only to renege repeatedly on that promise. Id. At the conclusion of his captivity, Reed had lost more than fifty pounds. Id. at 105.

The plaintiff alleges that Iran directed the establishment of Hizbollah with the purpose of eradicating western cultural influence in Lebanon. Compl. ¶ 4. Iran provided between fifty million and one hundred million dollars per year to Hizbollah. Pl. Mot., Attach. F (Hurley Test.) at 15; Id., Attach. E, (Clawson Test.) at 72-78. Reed's kidnaping was orchestrated by the "highest levels" of the Iranian government with the assistance of the MOIS. Hurley Test. at 20.

Tarek Reed was six years old when his father was kidnaped. Pl. Mot., Attach., C (Fifi Reed Test.) at 97; Id., Attach. J at 17. Throughout Reed's detention, the plaintiff's mother told him that his father was away working for the family, and "never told [him] that his dad was kidnaped." Fifi Reed Test. at 131. Thus, the plaintiff remained unaware of Reed's kidnaping through its duration. Id. After hearing rumors about his father at school, his mother told him that "[d]addy is somewhere. He is in a house. He is not being harmed, but he can't leave." Id.

Frank Reed was released from captivity after three and a half years and he promptly returned to the United States to rejoin his family. Id. at 115. Doctors in the United States found that he had been poisoned with arsenic and that he suffered from chronic depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Id. at 117-125.

Frank Reed's behavior changed drastically following his return to the United States. Fifi Reed Test. at 133. He started drinking excessively and rarely left his house, he would "walk out on the streets barefooted," and he would randomly just lie down in the grass. Id. at 135. He had difficulty sitting still, and could not walk, run, or dance -- activities he regularly participated in prior to his abduction. Id. at 141. Reed is currently receiving social security disability benefits. Frank Reed Test. at 124.

The plaintiff, a teenager when his father returned to the United States, was deeply affected by these changes. Fifi Reed Test. at 140. Fellow students in school would call attention to Frank Reed's plight, saying, "we saw your father in a magazine, and he was picked up by the police." Id. As a result of the changes to Frank Reed, the plaintiff began alienating his father, id., sometimes confronting him saying, "[w]hy are you killing yourself [and] making yourself end up in the hospital." Pl.'s Mot., Attach. L (Price Rep.) at 7.

The plaintiff's family circumstances also adversely affected his academics. Id. at 9. In 1993, the plaintiff received his first psychiatric examination, which determined that he had a loss of focus. Id. at 3. According to the plaintiff, these academic difficulties affected him professionally and have limited his career choices. Id. at 9. He attended college part-time but dropped out due to chronic depression. Pl.'s Mot., Attach. M at 9. As a result of his father's illness, the plaintiff engaged in self-destructive and self-defeating behavior. Price Rep. at 10. Significant consumption of alcohol and marijuana while a junior and senior in high school coincided with many of his father's most severe psychiatric difficulties. Id. ...

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