United States District Court, District of Columbia
VIRGINIA L. FOLEY, et al., Plaintiffs
SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC, et al., Defendants.
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, United States District Judge
case arises from the deaths of three Americans-Laurence
Michael Foley, Sr., Keith Matthew Maupin and Kristian
Menchaca-in Iraq and Jordan between 2002 and 2006.
Plaintiffs-the estates and family members of the
deceased-allege that all three were killed by a terrorist
organization led by Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi (the
“Zarqawi Terrorist Organization”). Proceeding
under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
(“FSIA”), Plaintiffs allege that Defendants
Syrian Arab Republic (“Syria”), Syrian Military
Intelligence, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian
General Asif Shawkat, provided material support and resources
to the Zarqawi Terrorist Organization and accordingly should
be held liable for these deaths. The Court agrees.
have not answered or otherwise participated in this
litigation, with the exception of filing an opposition to a
motion filed by Plaintiffs regarding the sufficiency of
service. The case accordingly proceeded in a default setting.
The Court held a liability hearing on November 16 and 17,
2016. In a previous Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court
determined that Plaintiffs had established their claims by
evidence satisfactory to the Court, and accordingly granted
default judgment against Defendants as to liability. The
Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law in that
Memorandum Opinion and Order are incorporated into this
Memorandum Opinion as though stated in full. The Court
referred the issue of damages to a Special Master.
consideration of the pleadings,  the relevant legal
authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court will now
grant Plaintiffs default judgment in this case in full. It
will affirm and adopt the Special Master's findings and
recommendations on damages, with the exception of his
recommended award to Virginia Foley. Mrs. Foley's award
will be increased.
filed this lawsuit on April 8, 2011. Compl., ECF No. 1. An
Amended Complaint was filed on September 13, 2011. Am.
Compl., ECF No. 11. Plaintiffs then struggled for years to
effectuate service because of the civil war in Syria and the
attendant breakdown in diplomatic relations between that
country and the United States. On the Court's order,
between November 2011 and February 2015 Plaintiffs filed a
series of status reports updating the Court on their efforts
to effectuate service on Defendants. ECF Nos. 20-38, 44. On
April 23, 2015, Plaintiffs moved this Court for an order that
service had been completed under 28 U.S.C. § 1603(a)(3).
ECF No. 48. Defendant Syrian Arab Republic filed an
opposition to this Motion, the only pleading filed by any
Defendant in this matter. ECF No. 49. On January 21, 2016,
the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion. ECF No. 51 at 11.
The Court found that Plaintiffs had accomplished service and
ordered the Clerk of the Court to enter a default as to each
Defendant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Id. The
Clerk of the Court entered default on January 22, 2016. ECF
Court held a liability hearing on November 16 and 17, 2016,
at which Plaintiffs offered documentary, photographic and
video evidence, and presented the testimony of fact and
expert witnesses. This hearing was limited to Defendants'
liability-Plaintiffs were not required to present evidence of
damages. At the close of the hearing Plaintiffs filed
Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. ECF No. 71.
previous Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court granted
Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment against each
Defendant as to liability. ECF Nos. 75, 76. The Court then
appointed Alan Balaran as a Special Master to administer
damages proceedings. ECF No. 75 at 1. The Court ordered Mr.
Balaran to file a damages report for each Plaintiff.
Id. at 2. The Court further ordered that any party
could file an objection to Mr. Balaran's reports within
21 days of the filing on the public docket. Id. The
Court further ordered that failure to meet this deadline
would result in permanent waiver of objections to Mr.
Balaran's findings, and that absent objection, Mr.
Balaran's findings, reports and recommendations would be
deemed approved, accepted and ordered by the Court, unless
the Court provided otherwise. Id.
Master Balaran reviewed the record in this case upon which
the Court based its liability findings, and also received
additional evidence. On October 6, 2017, Special Master
Balaran filed three reports: one regarding the death of
Laurence Michael Foley, Sr., one regarding the death of Staff
Sergeant Keith Matthew Maupin, and one regarding the death of
Private First Class Kristian Menchaca. ECF Nos. 81, 82, 83.
The recommendations of the Special Master are summarized
• Laurence Michael Foley, Sr.:
The Special Master recommended that Laurence Fo l e y S r.
's estate receive compensatory damages for pain and
suffering in the amount of $1 million and economic damages in
the amount of $1, 309, 517. The Special Master also
recommended that Virginia Foley be awarded $6, 250, 000 and
that Megan Foley, Jeremie Foley Robenolt and Laurence Foley,
Jr. each be awarded $3 million in compensatory damages for
loss of solatium. The Special Master recommended Plaintiffs
not be granted prejudgment interest on their damages awards,
and recommended that their damages not be increased to
account for inflation.
• Staff Sergeant Keith Matthew
Maupin: The Special Master recommended that
that the estate of Keith Matthew Maupin receive $10 million
in compensatory damages for pain and suffering and $1, 087,
294 in economic damages. The Special Master also recommended
that Carolyn Maupin and Keith Maupin each receive $7 million
in compensatory damages for loss of solatium. The Special
Master recommended Plaintiffs not be granted prejudgment
interest on their damages awards, and recommended that their
damages not be increased to account for inflation.
• Private First Class Kristian
Menchaca: The Special Master recommended that
the estate of Kristian Menchaca receive $30 million in
compensatory damages for pain and suffering and economic
damages in the amount $2, 382, 658. The Special Master
recommended that Christina Menchaca receive $17 million for
loss of solatium, that Maria Vasquez receive $5 million for
loss of solatium, that Pedro Menchaca receive $3.5 million
for loss of solatium, and that Julio Menchaca receive $ 2.5
million for loss of solatium. The Special Master recommended
no loss of solatium damages be granted to Julietta and
Kenneth MacKenzie, Kristian's aunt and uncle, or Isaac
Murillo, Kristian's “stepson.” Finally, the
Special Master recommended Plaintiffs not be granted
prejudgment interest on their damages awards, and recommended
that their damages not be increased to account for inflation.
filed timely objections to Special Master Balaran's
reports. Plaintiffs objected that the Special Master erred in
the following ways:
• Departing without explanation from the most relevant
precedent regarding a damage award for an individual tortured
to death by AQI, which is Gates v. Syrian Arab