United States District Court, District of Columbia
C. LAMBERTH UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
civil action was filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1605A and
arises out of the bombing of the United States Marine
barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983. Foley v.
Islamic Republic of franco. 14-CV-01752-RCL(D.D.C2014).
ECFNo. 1 (Complaint). The nearly 80 plaintiffs in this action
include servicemen killed or injured in the terrorist attack,
their estates, and family members. Defendants were served
through diplomatic channels on May 17, 2016. ECF No. 38.
Prompted by defendants' failure to answer, and upon
affidavit by plaintiffs' counsel, the clerk of court
entered a default against defendants on July 21, 2016. ECF
Nos. 39 and 40. On July 27, 2016, plaintiffs' counsel
filed a motion for default judgment, asking this Court
"to take notice of the liability decisions entered in
the related cases of Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran
(Peterson 7), 264 F.Supp.2d. 46 (D.D.C. 2003) and
Fain v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 856 F.Supp.2d 109
(D.D.C. 2012)." ECF No. 41. That same day,
plaintiffs' counsel moved for the appointment of a
special master. ECF No. 42. This Court granted both motions
on October 25, 2016. ECF No. 45.
available under the FSIA-created cause of action
"include economic damages, solatium, pain and suffering,
and punitive damages." 28 U.S.C. § 1605A(c).
Survivors may recover damages for their pain and suffering;
estates of the deceased may recover economic losses stemming
from wrongful death to the victims of terrorism; family
members may recover solatium for their emotional injury; and
all plaintiffs may recover punitive damages. Valore v.
Islamic Republic of Iran, 700 F.Supp.2d 52, 82-83
the FSIA, a "default winner must prove damages in the
same manner and to the same extent as any other default
winner." Hill v. Republic of Iraq, 328 F.3d
680, 683 (D.C. Cir. 2003). A 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 this [Circuit's]
application of the American rule on damages."'
Salazar v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 370 F.Supp.2d
105, 115-16 (D.D.C. 2005) (quoting Hill, 328 F.3d at
681 (internal quotations omitted)). Plaintiffs in this action
have amply demonstrated that defendants' commission of
acts of extrajudicial killing and provision of material
support and resources for such killing were reasonably
certain to - and indeed intended to - cause injury to
plaintiffs. Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran
(Peterson II), 515 F.Supp.2d 25, 37 (D.D.C. 2007).
of damage awards, the Court has received and reviewed the
recommendations of the special master and hereby ADOPTS,
without discussion, all facts found by and recommendations
made by the special master which conform to the
well-established damages frameworks articulated below.
See Peterson II, at 52-53; Valore, 700
F.Supp.2d at 84-87. The Court will, however, discuss those
instances where the special master has recommended awards
that deviate from these frameworks.
Pain and Suffering
appropriate damages for physical injury or mental disability
depends upon a myriad of factors. Where "death was
instantaneous there can be no recovery" Elahi v.
Islamic Republic of Iran, 124 F.Supp.2d 97, 112 (D.D.C.
2000) (citation omitted). See also Thuneibat v. Syrian
Arab Republic, 167 F.Supp.3d 22, 39 n.4 (D.D.C. 2016)
(where plaintiffs "submit no evidence ... showing that
either of the [v]ictims suffered any pain and suffering prior
to their deaths in the suicide bombings, " damages must
be denied). Victims who survived a few minutes to a few hours
after the bombing typically receive an award of $1 million.
Elahi, 124F.Supp.2d at 113.
victims surviving for a longer period of time, this Court
considers "the severity of the pain immediately
following the injury, the length of hospitalization, and the
extent of the impairment that will remain with the victim for
the rest of his or her life." Peterson II, 515
F.Supp.2d at 52 n. 26 (citing Blais v. Islamic Republic
of Iran, 459 F.Supp.2d 40, 59 (D.D.C. 2006)). In
Peterson II, this Court adopted a general procedure
for the calculation of damages that begins with the baseline
assumption that persons suffering substantial injuries in
terrorist attacks are entitled to $5 million in compensatory
damages. Id. at 54. This approach is not rigidly
applied, however, and this Court has indicated it will
"depart upward from this baseline to $7-$ 12 million in
more severe instances of physical and psychological pain,
such as where victims suffered relatively more numerous and
severe injuries, were rendered quadriplegic, partially lost
vision and hearing, or were mistaken for dead, "
Valore, 700 F.Supp.2d at 84, and will "depart
downward to $2-$3 million where victims suffered only minor
shrapnel injuries or minor injury from small-arms fire."
O'Brien v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 853
F.Supp.2d 44, 47 (D.D.C. 2012) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
servicemen suffering emotional, but no physical injury, this
Court has adopted a general framework for the calculation of
pain and suffering damages whereby they are "typically
awarded $1.5 million." Worley v. Islamic Republic of
Iran, 177 F.3d 283, 286 (D.D.C. 2016). See also
Davis v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 882 F.Supp.2d 7
(D.D.C. 2012) (awarding $1.5 million in damages to Marine
stationed aboard USS Iwo Jima at time of attack but
participated in recovery efforts and suffered from PTSD).
See also Peterson, 515 F.Supp.2d at 56;
Valore, 700 F.Supp.2d at 84.
following represent instances where the special master's
recommended awards for pain and suffering damages do not
comport with the frameworks articulated above.