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Beer v. Islamic Republic of Iran

August 26, 2008

ANNA BEER, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

This action arises from the June 11, 2003 suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem, Israel. Plaintiffs are the mother, brother, and sisters of Alan Beer, who was killed in the attack. Plaintiffs allege that the Islamic Republic of Iran ("Iran") and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security ("MOIS") are liable for damages resulting from the attack because they provided material support and assistance to Hamas, the terrorist organization that orchestrated the bombing. As such, defendants are subject to suit under the terrorist exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7).*fn1

On March 14, 2006, plaintiffs filed their Complaint under the FSIA seeking redress for their losses. On November 14, 2006, this Court ordered service upon defendants through diplomatic channels in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4). On June 20, 2007, plaintiffs filed proof of service in compliance with statutory procedures and thereafter sought entry of default on October 12, 2007, based upon defendants' failure to respond or enter an appearance. Default was entered by the Clerk of this Court against both defendants Iran and MOIS on October 15, 2007.

Plaintiffs' liability and damages claims are supported by the evidence presented in the January 31, 2008 hearing on liability. Based on all of the evidence presented, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law and will, consistent with them, enter default judgment in favor of plaintiffs and against defendants Iran and MOIS.

FINDINGS OF FACT

I. Generally

1. Plaintiff Harry Beer is an American citizen born and domiciled in Ohio. (See Hr'g Tr. 31, 64, Jan. 31, 2008.) He is the brother of Alan Beer and appears as a plaintiff in his own capacity and as administrator of his late brother's estate. (Compl. ¶ 1.)

2. Decedent Alan Beer is an American citizen born on December 15, 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio. (See Hr'g Tr. 32, 35.) At the time of his death, he was domiciled in Ohio. (See id. at 38; Ex. 11.)

3. Plaintiff Anna Beer is the mother of decedent Alan Beer. She is a naturalized American citizen who was domiciled in Ohio at the time of her son's death. (Id. at 62, 64.)

4. Plaintiff Phyllis Maisel was born in Cleveland, Ohio. (See id. at 32.) She is an American citizen who was living in Israel at the time of her brother's death. (See id. at 83--84.) She was last domiciled in Ohio. (See id. at 32--33.)

5. Plaintiff Estelle Carroll was born in Cleveland, Ohio. (See id. at 32.) She is an American citizen who was domiciled in Norfolk, Virginia at the time of her brother's death. (See id. at 53.)

6. Alan Beer was the youngest of four children. He grew up in a close, religious family in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from high school, Alan began to visit Israel, where his older sister Phyllis Maisel resided. (See id. at 77.) Alan developed a career in information technology, working in various locations throughout the U.S. (See id. at 34--35.)

7. Alan traveled between the U.S. and Israel regularly. At one point, he resided in Israel for approximately fours years and then returned to the U.S. to pursue career opportunities and to be with his mother. (See id. at 83.) Alan worked in the U.S. for a short period, then returned to Israel for the final time six months prior to his death. (See id.)

8. Alan's family was well aware of the frequency of terrorist attacks in Israel. (See id. at 52, 65, 84--85.) Terrorist attacks were so frequent that Phyllis Maisel became the point of contact for all of the family members living in the U.S. to make sure that all family members in Israel were safe after an attack. (See id. at 42.)

II. The June 11, 2003 Bombing

9. On June 11, 2003, a Hamas suicide bomber blew up Egged bus number 14A. (See Clawson Dep. 35:10--36:20, May 24, 2006; see also U.S. Dep't of State, 2003 Patterns of Global Terrorism, app. A at 12.) One of the deadliest attacks of the year, the explosion killed 17 people, including Alan Beer, and wounded more than 99. See 2003 Patterns of Global Terrorism, app. A at 12. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing as retaliation after the Israelis attempted assassination of a senior Hamas leader. (Clawson Dep. 36:4--10.)

III. Iranian Support and Sponsorship of the Attack

10. Defendant Iran "is a foreign state and has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism pursuant to section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 App. U.S.C.A. § 2405(j)) continuously since January 19, 1984." Flatow v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 999. F. Supp. 1, 9, ¶ 19 (D.D.C. 1998) (Lamberth, J.).

11. Hamas is an organization supported by Iran, "dedicated to the waging of Jihad, or a holy war employing terrorism with the object of seizing the leadership of the Palestinian people and asserting sovereignty and the rule of the Muslim religion over all of Palestine, including all territory of the State of Israel." Bodoff v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 424 F. Supp. 2d 74, 79, ¶ 10 (D.D.C. 2006) (Lamberth, J.) (quoting Weinstein v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 184 F. Supp. 2d 13, 19, ¶ 24 (D.D.C. 2002) (Lamberth, J.)).

12. Defendant Iran actively provided material support to Hamas at the time of the June 11, 2003 suicide bombing of Egged bus 14A. (Clawson Dep. 39:9--17.) Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2003. (2003 Patterns of Global Terrorism 88.) During that period, "Iran maintained a high-profile role in encouraging anti-Israeli activity" while providing Hamas and other terrorist organizations with funding, safe haven, training, and weapons. (See id.) Iran hosted a conference in August 2003 on the Palestinian intifadah, at which an Iranian official suggested that the continued success of the Palestinian resistance depended on suicide operations. (Id.)

13. Pesach Dov Maisel ("Dov Maisel"), the son of Plaintiff Phyllis Maisel and nephew of Alan Beer, began working for Israeli Emergency Medical Services ("EMS") at the age of fourteen. (Hr'g Tr. 13.) He has responded to most of the terrorist attacks in greater Jerusalem since 2000. (Id. at 15.) Dov Maisel was contacted on his beeper on June 11, 2003, to respond to a bus bombing. (Id. at 17.) Upon arrival at the scene of the bombing, he was not aware that his uncle, Alan Beer, had been on the bus. (Id. at 20.)

14. Dov Maisel described in detail the debriefing procedure undertaken by the medical personnel who responded to the scene of the June 11, 2003 bus bombing. (Id. at 22-24.) During the debriefing, a doctor described one of the victims he treated at the scene. According to the doctor, the man was conscious after the bombing but had extensive shrapnel wounds. This man was conscious when the response team did the first survey of the victims, but he had suffered severe trauma and was experiencing shortness of breath. By the time the medics brought him to the ambulances to be transported to the hospital, he was dead. (Id. at 24--25.) The day after the bombing, pictures of ...


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