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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Iran Not Properly Noticed of $2.6 Billion Judgment

HOUSTON (CN) - The victims of a 1983 suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, did not properly serve Iran with notice of a $2.6 billion default judgment against it, a federal judge ruled.

Hezbollah carried out the bombing that killed 241 servicemen and injured many others in what was the deadliest state-sponsored terrorist attack on Americans before Sept. 11, 2001.

Family members and survivors sued the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security - the alleged state sponsors of the attack -- in the District of Columbia District Court.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lambert entered the default judgment against the foreign state and its intelligence agency in September 2007.

The families and survivors registered the judgment with the Southern District of Texas. However, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller refused to allow execution on the default judgment in a 7-page order issued Thursday.

The plaintiffs' affidavit shows that their attorney - a private citizen - mailed the default judgment to Iran.

Miller found that the plaintiffs did not meet the service requirements of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, since they failed to have the court clerk address and send out the documents.

"While this defect may appear trivial, the Fifth Circuit has held on similar facts that private service by mail is insufficient, explaining that to depart from the statutory scheme would disregard congressional intent and U.S. diplomatic interests in ensuring proper service of foreign governments," Miller wrote.

Had Miller granted the motion to execute, the plaintiffs planned to serve a writ of garnishment on Royal Dutch Shell in the Southern District of Texas.

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