United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Shalom Goldstein is one of some 130 people who were either
killed or injured in a Hamas bus bombing in Jerusalem in
August 2003. Goldstein survived and brings this suit for
assault and battery and, along with his relatives, emotional
distress. Plaintiffs name as defendants the Islamic Republic
of Iran, the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security,
and the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, all of which
(plaintiffs say) sponsored the Hamas organization and enabled
the bus bombing to occur. Defendants did not appear in the
action, and plaintiffs have moved the Court to (1) take
judicial notice of the Court's findings of fact and
conclusions of law in a related case, Cohen v. Islamic
Republic of Iran, 238 F.Supp.3d 71 (D.D.C. 2017),
involving the same August 2003 terrorist attack and
essentially identical legal claims; (2) adopt
Cohen's findings of fact and conclusions of law
in this case; (3) enter default judgment against the
defendants on the issue of liability; and (4) appoint a
Special Master to conduct a damages proceeding. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant each of
facts of the 2003 attack, and the allegations related to
Iran's support of Hamas, are recounted exhaustively in
this Court's opinion in the Cohen case. 238
F.Supp.3d at 75-79. Because the Court will ultimately adopt
those factual findings, the Court will only briefly summarize
them here, in addition to highlighting those facts specific
to Mr. Goldstein's claims.
August 19, 2003, Shalom Goldstein was riding in the Number 2
Egged Bus in Jerusalem, Israel. Compl. ¶ 58. When the
bus passed through the Shmuel Ha-Navi neighborhood, a man
named Ra'ad Misk boarded the bus and denotated an
explosive belt strapped to his body. Id. ¶ 60.
The explosion killed 23 people and wounded over 130,
including Goldstein. Id. ¶ 61. Goldstein
suffered lacerations and bruises to his body, face, and eyes,
experienced shock, and has been rendered largely deaf.
Id. ¶ 62; Declaration of Shalom Goldstein
(“Shalom Decl.”) ¶¶ 4, 6, 7-9.
claimed responsibility for the attack. Id.
¶¶ 66-67. Hamas, short for Harakat al-Muqawamah
al-Islamiyya or the “Islamic Resistance Movement,
” is a group dedicated to the destruction to the state
of Israel. Id. ¶¶ 33-36. Goldstein alleges
that Iran, through its Ministry of Information and Security
and Revolutionary Guard Corps, has long been a state sponsor
of Hamas. Id. ¶¶ 44-53. As a consequence,
he alleges that it is liable for his injuries. Id.
filed suit against the Iran defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1605A, an exception to the Foreign Sovereign
Immunities Act that allows suit against state sponsors of
terror. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages for
assault and battery and emotional distress. Id.
¶¶ 69-90. Goldstein is joined by assorted
relatives, who all sue for loss of society and emotional
distress stemming from the same episode. Id.
¶¶ 12-26. Goldstein properly served the defendants,
but the defendants failed to file an answer or otherwise
appear in the case; Goldstein moves the Court to take
judicial notice of its previous findings of fact and
conclusions of law in the Cohen case and to grant
default judgment. Plaintiff's Motion to Take Judicial
Notice and for Default Judgment (“Mot. Default
Judgment”). These motions are now ripe for the
Rule of Evidence 201(b) permits courts to take judicial
notice of facts “not subject to reasonable
dispute” that are “capable of accurate and ready
determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot
reasonably be questioned.” “A court may take
judicial notice of, and give effect to, its own records in
another but interrelated proceeding[.]” Opati v.
Republic of Sudan, 60 F.Supp.3d 68, 73-74 (D.D.C. 2014)
(quoting Booth v. Fletcher, 101 F.2d 676, 679 n.2
(D.C. Cir. 1938)); see also 29 Am.Jur.2d Evidence
§ 151 (2010). Given the large number of victims in
terrorist attacks, and the flood of cases that they generate,
courts regularly take judicial notice of the record in
related cases in the FSIA context. See, e.g.,
Rimkus v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 750 F.Supp.2d
163, 171 (D.D.C. 2010) (collecting cases).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2), the Court may
consider entering a default judgment when a party applies for
that relief. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).
“[S]trong policies favor resolution of disputes on
their merits, ” and therefore, “default judgment
must normally be viewed as available only when the adversary
process has been halted because of an essentially
unresponsive party.” Jackson v. Beech, 636
F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (quoting H.F. Livermore
Corp. v. Aktiengesellschaft Gebruder Loepfe, 432 F.2d
689, 691 (D.C. Cir. 1970)).
FSIA, “entry of a default judgment is not
automatic.” Braun v. Islamic Republic of Iran,
228 F.Supp.3d 64, 74, 2017 WL 79937, at *4 (D.D.C. Jan. 9,
2017) (internal citation omitted). First, the Court must
still consider whether it has subject matter jurisdiction
over the action, James Madison Ltd. by Hecht v.
Ludwig, 82 F.3d 1085, 1092 (D.C. Cir. 1996), and whether
it has personal jurisdiction over the defendants, Mwani
v. bin Laden, 417 F.3d 1, 6-7 (2005). And even then, a
claimant must “establish[ ] his claim or right to
relief by evidence satisfactory to the court.” 28
U.S.C. § 1608(e). “The Court, therefore, may not
simply accept a complaint's unsupported allegations as
true . . . but may rely upon uncontroverted factual
allegations that are supported by affidavits.”
Worley v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 75 F.Supp.3d
311, 319 (D.D.C. 2014) (internal quotation marks and