United States District Court, District of Columbia
JAMES R. MORIARTY, et al, Plaintiffs,
HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN, et al, Defendants
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Court is in receipt of Defendant the Hashemite Kingdom of
Jordan's (“Jordan”)  Motion for Final
Judgment. Plaintiffs oppose Defendant Jordan's Motion.
See ECF No. 24.
United States Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
(“FISA”) case involves the deaths of three United
States Army Special Forces members at the entrance to a
Jordanian air base. Plaintiffs, surviving family of the
service members, allege that a First Sergeant in the
Jordanian military, Defendant Ma'Arek Al-Tawayha a/k/a
Abu Tayeh, wrongfully killed the service members in an act of
terrorism. Plaintiffs further alleged that Defendant Jordan
aided and abetted the terrorist attack. However, on August 6,
2019, this Court dismissed with prejudice Defendant Jordan
from this lawsuit, finding that this Court did not have
subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims
against Defendant Jordan due to sovereign immunity. ECF No.
19, 20. Presently, Plaintiffs are proceeding with their
claims against Defendant Ma'Arek Al-Tawayha a/k/a Abu
Tayeh and are in the lengthy process of attempting service.
Defendant Jordan now asks the Court to enter final judgment
as to the dismissal with prejudice of all claims against it.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorize a district court
in a case with multiple parties or multiple claims to
“direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more,
but fewer than all, claims or parties, ” provided the
court “expressly determines that there is no just
reason for delay.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). The United
States Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit have explained that
certification under Rule 54(b) is an exception and is not
routinely granted as a matter of course. See Bldg. Indus.
Ass'n of Superior Calif. v. Babbitt, 161 F.3d 740,
743 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (citing Sears, Roebuck & Co. v.
Mackey, 351 U.S. 427, 437 (1956)). A court faced with a
motion for certification under Rule 54(b) must first
determine whether the decision at issue is a “final
judgment, ” in the sense that it is an “ultimate
disposition” that “determines a claim for
relief.” Id. at 744 (internal quotation marks
omitted). Second, the court must determine whether there is
any just reason for delay, taking into account
“judicial administrative interests” and
“the equities involved” such as “whether
the claims under review [are] separable from the others
remaining to be adjudicated and whether the nature of the
claims already determined [is] such that no appellate court
would have to decide the same issues more than once even if
there were subsequent appeals.” Curtiss-Wright
Corp. v. Gen'l Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 8 (1980).
the Court finds that the Order dismissing all claims against
Defendant Jordan is a “final judgment.” In its
Order, the Court dismissed with prejudice all claims against
Defendant Jordan on the basis of sovereign immunity. ECF No.
19, 20; see also Pls.' Status Report, ECF No. 21
(explaining that Plaintiffs are “the only active
parties in this case”). Because the August 9, 2019
Order was the ultimate disposition of Plaintiffs' claims
against Defendant Jordan, the Order represents a final
judgment as to Defendant Jordan. See Jewler v. District
of Columbia, 198 F.Supp.3d 1, 3 (D.D.C. 2016) (granting
entry of final judgment because the court had previously
dismissed all claims against some “defendants with
the Court finds that there is no just reason for delay in
granting final judgment to Defendant Jordan. In making this
determination, the Court weighs “the equities
involved” and “judicial administrative
interests.” Id. (quoting Curtiss-Wright
Corp., 446 U.S. at 7).
the claims against Defendant Jordan are wholly separable from
the claims against Defendant Ma'Arek Al-Tawayha a/k/a Abu
Tayeh. The Court dismissed all claims against Defendant
Jordan based on sovereign immunity, a defense unavailable to
Defendant Ma'Arek Al-Tawayha a/k/a Abu Tayeh. Because the
basis for Defendant Jordan's dismissal is not available
to Defendant Ma'Arek Al-Tawayha a/k/a Abu Tayeh, there is
no possibility that a potential reviewing court would be
forced to review the same issue-sovereign immunity-twice.
However, Plaintiffs contend that a grant of final judgment
may result in piecemeal litigation because it “will
almost certainly force Plaintiffs' hand to pursue an
appeal against Jordan on this Court's sovereign immunity
determination at the present time.” ECF No. 24, 4. Even
if Plaintiffs decide to pursue an appeal of the Court's
dismissal of Defendant Jordan, no occurrences in their case
against the remaining Defendant will result in the D.C.
Circuit “hav[ing] to decide the same issues more than
once even if there [are] subsequent appeals.”
Brooks v. District Hosp. Partners, L.P., 606 F.3d
800, 806 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted).
there is the potential for a lengthy delay in the resolution
of the remainder of Plaintiffs' claims due to
difficulties in serving Defendant Ma'Arek Al-Tawayha
a/k/a Abu Tayeh. See Pls.' Status Report, ECF
No. 21 (“service of process pursuant to Letters
Rogatory issued to a foreign country can be an extremely
time-consuming and cumbersome process”). Plaintiffs
argue that “the experience thrust upon them by Jordan
in besmirching the memories of their loved ones for a
significant period of time augurs against the persuasiveness
of any argument” pertaining to a lengthy delay for
Defendant Jordan. ECF No. 24, 2. While the Court is
sympathetic to Plaintiffs' losses and to the loss of
three American Special Forces members honorably serving their
country, the fact remains that the Court has already
determined that Defendant Jordan is by statute immune from
suit which is not a discretionary decision on the part of the
Court. As a sovereign power, Defendant Jordan faces a burden
from remaining a Defendant, albeit a dismissed Defendant, in
a case with claims as serious as Plaintiffs' claims.
Fantasia v. Office of the Receiver of the Comm'n on
Mental Health Servs., No. 01-1079-LFO, 2002 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 27609, at *6 (D.D.C. Mar. 11, 2002) (finding entry of
final judgment “particularly appropriate when …
defendants are dismissed on the basis of immunity”
(citing Capital Transit Co. v. District of Columbia,
225 F.2d 38, 40 (D.C. Cir. 1955))).
the Court finds that entry of final judgment as to Defendant
Jordan pursuant to Rule 54(b) is appropriate in these
circumstances. The dismissal of Defendant Jordan was a final
judgment and there is no just ...