Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The US District Court for the District of Columbia has ordered Sprint Communications Company to turn over approximately $600,000 it owes to the state-owned Telecommunications Infrastructure Company of Iran to victims of a 1996 bombing carried out with Iranian assistance. The case is Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, CV 2329 (August 10, 2011), and was originally filed in 2000 by plaintiffs who were injured by a bombing in Saudi Arabia for which Hezbollah was responsible. Plaintiffs alleged that Hezbollah received material support from the Republic of Iran in carrying out the attack. Plaintiffs sued Iran under the state sponsored terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 USC 1605(a)(7). Plaintiffs obtained a default judgment after Iran refused to participate in the lawsuit.
In 2008, the US Congress amended FSIA to permit recovery of punitive damages and to make it easier to enforce judgements under the Act. As a result, this judgment represents only a small portion of the total amount owed to plaintiffs, which is close to $600 million.