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Mwila v. Islamic Republic of Iran

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 28, 2014

JUDITH ABASI MWILA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, et al., Defendants

Page 37

For JUDITH ABASI MWILA, Personal Representative of the Estate of Abbas William Mwila, William Abasi Mwila,Edina Abasi Mwila,Hapiness Abasi Mwila, Plaintiff: Thomas Fortune Fay, LEAD ATTORNEY, William Coleman Dowden , III, FAY KAPLAN LAW, PA, Washington, DC.

For DONTE AKILI MWAIPAPE, VICTORIA DONTI MWAIPAPE, ELISHA DONTI MWAIPAPE, JOSEPH DONTI MWAIPAPE, DEBORA DONTI MWAIPAPE, NKO DONTI MWAIPAPE, MONICA AKILI, AKILI MUSUPAPE, VALENTINE MATHEW KATUNDA, ABELLA VALENTINE KATUNDA, VENANT VALENTINE MATHEW KATUNDA, DESIDERY VALENTINE MATHEW KATUNDA, VEIDIANA VALENTINE KATUNDA, DIANA VALENTINE KATUNDA, EDWINE VALENTINE MATHEW KATUNDA, ANGELINA MATHEW FELIX, EDWARD MATHEW RUTAHESHELWA, ELIZABETH MATHEW RUTAHESHELWA, ANGELINA MATHEW RUTAHESHELWA, HAPPINESS MATHEW RUTAHESHELWA, ERIC MATHEW RUTAHESHELWA, ENOC MATHEW RUTAHESHELWA, ANGELINA MATHEW-FERIX, MATHEW FERIX, SAMUEL THOMAS MARCUS, CECILIA SAMUEL MARCUS, CORONELLA SAMUEL MARCUS, HANUNI RAMADHANI NDANGE, Personal Respresentative of the Estate of Yusuf Shamte Ndange, Adbu Yusuph Shamte Ndange,Juma Yusuph Shamte Ndange, Mwajabu Yusuph Shamte Ndange, SHABANI SAIDI MTULYA, Personal Representative of the Estate of Mtendeje Rajabu Mtuyla, Abdul Shabani Mtuyla,Saidi Shabani Mtuyla, ADABETH SAID NANG'OKO, Personal Representative of the Estate of Rogath Saidi Saidi, Veronica Alois Saidi, John Rogath Saidi, Daniel Rogath Saidi,Selina Rogath Saidi, Idifonce Rogath Saidi, Aisha Mawazo, KULWA RAMADHANI, Personal Representative of the Estate of Dotio Rmadhani, Kassim Ramadhani, Renema Ramadhani, Upemdo Ramadhani, Majaliwa Ramadhani, Wengo Ramadhani, ALL PLAINTIFFS, Plaintiffs: Thomas Fortune Fay, LEAD ATTORNEY, FAY KAPLAN LAW, PA, Washington, DC.

Page 38

MEMORANDUM OPINION[1]

JOHN D. BATES, United States District Judge.

Over fifteen years ago, on August 7, 1998, the United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were devastated by simultaneous suicide bombings that killed hundreds of people and injured over a thousand. This Court has entered final judgment on liability under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

Page 39

(" FSIA" ) in this civil action and several related cases--brought by victims of the bombings and their families--against the Republic of Sudan, the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (collectively " defendants" ) for their roles in supporting, funding, and otherwise carrying out these unconscionable acts.[2] The next step in the case is to assess and award damages to each individual plaintiff, and in this task the Court has been aided by a special master.

Plaintiffs are four Tanzanian citizens injured and five estates of Tanzanian citizens killed in the Dar es Salaam bombings, as well as forty-nine immediate family members of the victims. Those injured and deceased were employees of entities that had contracts with the U.S. government, and were performing under those contracts within the scope of their employment at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam when the bombing occurred. Service of process was completed upon each defendant, but defendants failed to respond, and a default was entered against each defendant. The Court has held that it has jurisdiction over defendants and that the foreign national plaintiffs who worked for the U.S. government are entitled to compensation for personal injury and wrongful death under 28 U.S.C. § 1605A(c)(3). See Owens v. Republic of Sudan, 826 F.Supp.2d 128, 148-51 (D.D.C. 2011). The Court has also held that, although those plaintiffs who are foreign national family members of victims lack a federal cause of action, they may nonetheless pursue claims under the laws of the District of Columbia. Id. at 153-57. A final judgment on liability was entered in favor of plaintiffs. Nov. 28, 2011 Order [ECF No. 214] 2. The deposition testimony and other evidence presented established that the defendants were responsible for supporting, funding, and otherwise carrying out the bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. See Owens, 826 F.Supp.2d at 135-47.

The Court then referred plaintiffs' claims to a special master, John Swanson, to prepare proposed findings and recommendations for a determination of damages. Feb. 27, 2012 Order Appointing Special Masters [ECF No. 33] 2. The special master has now filed completed reports on each plaintiff, and plaintiffs have filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law based on those reports. See Reports of Special Master John Swanson [ECF Nos. 36-44]; Proposed Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law [ECF No. 53]. In completing those reports, the special master relied on sworn testimony, expert reports, medical records, and other evidence. The reports extensively describe the key facts relevant to each plaintiff and carefully analyze their claims under the framework established in mass tort terrorism cases. The Court commends John Swanson for his fine work and thorough analysis.

The Court hereby adopts all facts found by the special master relating to each plaintiff in this case. In addition, the Court adopts the special master's findings that all plaintiffs have established their employment status or their familial relationship necessary to support standing under section 1605A(a)(2)(A)(ii). See Owens, 826 F.Supp.2d at 149. The Court also adopts all damages recommendations in the reports, with a few adjustments as described below. " Where recommendations deviate from the Court's damages framework, 'those amounts shall be altered so as to conform with the respective award

Page 40

amounts set forth' in the framework, unless otherwise noted." Valore v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 700 F.Supp.2d 52, 82-83 (D.D.C. 2010) (quoting Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 515 F.Supp.2d 25, 53 (D.D.C. 2007) (" Peterson II" ), abrogation on other grounds recognized in Mohammadi v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 947 F.Supp.2d 48, 65 (D.D.C. 2013)). As a result, the Court will award plaintiffs a total judgment of over $419 million.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

On November 28, 2011, the Court granted summary judgment on liability against defendants in this case. Nov. 28, 2011 Order [ECF No. 214] 2. The foreign national U.S.-government-employee victims have a federal cause of action, while their foreign-national family members have a cause of action under D.C. law.

I. The Government-Employee Plaintiffs Are Entitled To Damages On Their Federal Law Claims Under 28 U.S.C. § 1605A

" To obtain damages in a Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) action, the plaintiff must prove that the consequences of the defendants' conduct were reasonably certain (i.e., more likely than not) to occur, and must prove the amount of the damages by a reasonable estimate consistent with application of the American rule on damages." Valore, 700 F.Supp.2d at 83. Plaintiffs here have proven that the consequences of defendants' conduct were reasonably certain to--and indeed intended to--cause injury to plaintiffs. See Owens, 826 F.Supp.2d at 135-46. As discussed in this Court's previous opinion, because the FSIA-created cause of action " does not spell out the elements of these claims that the Court should apply," the Court " is forced . . . to apply general principles of tort law" to determine plaintiffs' entitlement to damages on their federal claims. Id. at 157 n.3.

Survivors are entitled to recover for the pain and suffering caused by the bombings: acts of terrorism " by their very definition" amount to extreme and outrageous conduct and are thus compensable by analogy under the tort of " intentional infliction of emotional distress." Valore, 700 F.Supp.2d at 77 (citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46(1) (1965)); see also Baker v. Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahriya, 775 F.Supp.2d 48, 74 (D.D.C. 2011) (permitting plaintiffs injured in state-sponsored terrorist bombings to recover for personal injuries, including pain and suffering, under tort of " intentional infliction of emotional distress" ); Estate of Bland v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 831 F.Supp.2d 150, 153 (D.D.C. 2011) (same). Hence, " those who survived the attack may recover damages for their pain and suffering, . . . [and for] economic losses caused by their injuries. . . ." Oveissi v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 879 F.Supp.2d 44, 55 (D.D.C. 2012) (" Oveissi II" ) (citing Valore, 700 F.Supp.2d at 82-83); see 28 U.S.C. ยง 1605A(c). Accordingly, all plaintiffs who were injured in the 1998 bombings can recover for their pain and suffering as well as their economic damages. Bland, 831 F.Supp.2d ...


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