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Fraenkel v. Islamic Republic of Iran

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 13, 2018

ABRAHAM RON FRAENKEL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION ON REMAND

          ROSEMARY M. COLLYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Abraham and Rachelle Fraenkel lost their son, Naftali, when Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered him and two other young men. The Fraenkels and their remaining six children sued the Syrian Arab Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS), as supporters of Hamas, under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. § 1602 et seq. (2012). On default judgment, the Court found in the Fraenkels' favor and awarded money damages. The Fraenkels moved to reconsider the damages because they were “insufficient to provide them fair compensation, ” specifically because the amount awarded was less than the “gold standard” for FSIA awards as set in Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 466 F.Supp.2d 229 (D.D.C. 2006). The Court denied the Fraenkels' motion for reconsideration and they appealed.

         The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed this Court's awards for Naftali's pain and suffering and for punitive damages but reversed and remanded the award of solatium damages to the family members, with directions to consider the factors for solatium damages discussed in Flatow v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 999 F.Supp. 1, 30-32 (D.D.C. 1998). Having considered the Flatow factors, the Court awards the following solatium damages:

Rachelle Fraenkel - $2, 000, 000
Abraham Fraenkel - $2, 000, 000
Tzvi Amitay Fraenkel - $750, 000
Ayala Chaya Hinda Fraenkel - $750, 000
A.L. Fraenkel - $750, 000
N.E. Fraenkel - $750, 000
N.S. Fraenkel - $750, 000
S.R. Fraenkel - $750, 000

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts of this case have been discussed at length in this Court's Memorandum Opinion on the motion for default judgment, Fraenkel v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 248 F.Supp.3d 21 (D.D.C. 2017) (Fraenkel I), Memorandum Opinion on the motion for reconsideration, Fraenkel v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 258 F.Supp.3d 77 (D.D.C. 2017) (Fraenkel II), and the Circuit's opinion on appeal. Fraenkel v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 892 F.3d 348 (D.C. Cir. 2018) (Fraenkel III). Therefore, the facts will only be briefly recounted. Naftali Fraenkel and two other young men were kidnapped and murdered on June 12, 2014 by members of Hamas. Their bodies were buried on private land and were not discovered for 18 days. The search for the boys garnered the attention of the entire state of Israel. The final burials of all three murdered young men were effectively state funerals.

         Rachelle Frankel and her children are citizens of the United States as well as citizens of Israel. The entire Fraenkel family sued Iran, Syria, and MOIS on July 9, 2015, advancing claims for liability and damages under the FSIA and, for Abraham Fraenkel who is not a U.S. citizen, damages under Israeli law. See Compl. [Dkt. 1]. The Court held a two-day hearing on the Fraenkels' Motion for Default Judgment on December 6-7, 2016 and Plaintiffs submitted proposed findings of fact and law. See Proposed Findings [Dkt. 36]. On March 31, 2017, the Court issued its Memorandum Opinion and Order, finding in favor of the Fraenkels and awarding the following damages:

Pain and Suffering to the Estate of Naftali Fraenkel - $1, ...

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