United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL HARVEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Darioush Radmanesh's motion for a
new trial following the denial of his motion for default
judgment under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's
(“FSIA”) state sponsor of terrorism exception
(“terrorism exception”) and the dismissal of this
action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1605A; ECF No. 25; ECF No. 26. For the reasons that follow,
Plaintiff's motion is denied.
factual background for this case is described in detail in
the Court's April 2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order
denying default judgment and dismissing the case. See
Radmanesh v. Gov't of Islamic Republic of Iran, No.
17-CV-1708 (GMH), 2019 WL 1787615 (D.D.C. Apr. 24, 2019). The
following discussion reiterates only the facts that are
necessary to resolve the pending motion and to provide
context for the new facts Plaintiff has introduced in
conjunction with that motion. ECF No. 26. The Court will
discuss allegations Plaintiff included in his complaint (ECF
No. 1) and in a declaration accompanying his motion for entry
of default judgment (ECF No. 21-2), as well as the new
allegations Plaintiff included in a supplemental declaration
attached to the present motion (ECF No. 26).
Plaintiff's Allegation that He Was Forced to Stay in Iran
Plaintiff's first declaration, he alleged that he is a
U.S. citizen born in Kirksville, Missouri to an American
mother and an Iranian father. ECF No. 21-2 at 2. In 1978, the
family moved to Isfahan, Iran where his father was employed
with Polyacryl Iran, a DuPont affiliate. Id. In
1979, during the Iranian Revolution, Plaintiff and his family
were told they would be executed as spies unless they
remained in Iran and his father trained Iranian engineers.
Id. at 3-4; ECF No. 1 at 5-6. In a supplemental
declaration attached to the pending motion, Plaintiff now
alleges that his family was “also placed on house
arrest as a condition of [his] father's
conviction.” ECF No. 26 at 3, 10. Plaintiff specifies
that his mother “had to inform the Iranian authorities
every time [he] went to the store, walked to a friend's
house, or even played in the yard.” Id. at 3.
The only activities excused from this reporting requirement
were travelling to the state school Plaintiff was forced to
attend and his eventual conscription into the Iranian
military. Id. Plaintiff also notes that two and a
half years of this house arrest occurred after the United
States designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in
1984. Id. at 4.
Plaintiff's Allegation that He Was Conscripted into the
said in his prior declaration that he was forcibly
conscripted into the Iranian military at the age of sixteen
to fight in the Iran-Iraq War as an Iranian solider. ECF No.
21-2 at 7.
underwent basic training and was sent on missions.
Id. This included being sent into battle and
watching children and adults be killed by landmines.
Id. at 8. Plaintiff was also forced to shoot a
sleeping Iraqi soldier “in the head at point blank
range” while on a mission. Id. In his
supplemental declaration accompanying the present motion,
Plaintiff now claims he was treated differently as an
American citizen serving in the Iranian military, stating
“Iranian officials in the military made it clear [that
American citizens] were placed in more dangerous and
precarious situations because our death would serve
Iran's interests as an American martyr having died
fighting for Iran.” ECF No. 26 at 10. He further states
that punishments were harsher for American soldiers than for
Iranian soldiers. Id. at 10. By way of example,
Plaintiff explains that while an Iranian soldier who spoke
out of turn or failed to follow orders “might only be
responded to with a rebuke, an American soldier . . . would
be killed or placed in solitary confinement.”
Id. at 10-11.
filed his complaint in August 2017 under the FSIA's
terrorism exception to sovereign immunity. See 28
U.S.C. § 1605A. Plaintiff served Iran in accordance with
28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4) and through diplomatic channels
on October 1, 2018. ECF No. 18. Iran did not respond to
Plaintiff's complaint, and at Plaintiff's request,
the Clerk of the Court entered default against Iran on
December 10, 2018. ECF No. 19; ECF No. 20.
then moved for default judgment. ECF No. 21. The Court denied
the motion for default judgment and dismissed Plaintiff's
complaint for want of subject matter jurisdiction. See
Radmanesh, 2019 WL 1787615, at *11. The Court found that
(1) it was unclear whether all of Defendant's actions
towards Plaintiff took place after Iran's designation as
a state-sponsor of terrorism, and (2) Plaintiff failed to
plausibly state a claim that “an official, employee, or
agent of the foreign state, while acting within the scope of
his or her office, employment, or agency, . . . engaged in an
act of hostage-taking or torture that caused personal injury
or death.” Id. at *6-7 (quoting 28 U.S.C.
the Court found Plaintiff's allegations that Iran had
prohibited his family from leaving the country did not amount
to hostage-taking because its purpose was not “to force
a third party either to perform an act otherwise unplanned or
to abstain from one otherwise contemplated so as to
ensure the freedom of the detainee.”
Radmanesh, 2019 WL 1787615, at *7 (emphasis in
original) (quoting Price v. Socialist People's Libyan
Arab Jamahiriya, 294 F.3d 82, 94 (D.C. Cir. 2002)). The
Court also found that the acts prior to Plaintiff's
conscription were not torture because there was no evidence
Plaintiff was in the custody or control of Iran at the time
the alleged abused occurred. Id. at *9. The alleged
abuse was also not “sufficiently extreme and outrageous
to warrant . . . universal condemnation.”
Price, 294 F.3d at 93-94. Finally, the Court found
that Plaintiff's conscription was not torture because its
purpose was for him to serve in the military, not something
“‘similar in nature' to those [purposes]
expressly condemned by the FSIA (i.e., ‘obtaining from
that individual . . . information or a confession, punishing
that individual for an act that individual committed or is
suspected of having committed, intimidating or coercing that
individual . . . or for any reason based on discrimination of
any kind').” Radmanesh, 2019 WL 1787615,
at *11 (quoting Torture Victim Protection Act, 106 Stat. 73).
filed the present motion on May 22, 2019. ECF No. 26. That
motion is currently ripe for adjudication.