Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba

996 F. Supp. 1239 (1997)

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Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
996 F. Supp. 1239 (1997)

Facts

United States citizens Mario Mañuel De la Peña and Carlos Alberto Costa piloted two civilian Cessna 337 aircraft on a humanitarian mission to search for possible distressed refugees in the waters between Cuba (defendant) and the United States. United States citizen Armando Alejandre and Cuban citizen Pablo Morales were passengers in the planes. Both Cessnas filed flight plans with United States and Cuban air-traffic controllers stating their intention to fly over international waters only. However, the Cuban Air Force (defendant) sent two armed MiG jets after the Cessnas. Well within the boundaries of international waters, without attempting to contact either Cessna or providing any type of notice, the MiG jets intentionally launched missiles at the Cessnas, destroying the planes and killing the four men. The families of Alejandre, De la Peña, and Costa (plaintiffs) sued Cuba and the Cuban Air Force in United States federal court. Claiming that the court did not have jurisdiction over them, neither Cuba nor the Cuban Air Force appeared in the lawsuit. At trial, evidence was presented establishing that (1) Cuba had been designated a state sponsor of terrorism, (2) the Cuban Air Force had intentionally shot down the Cessnas while acting under the Cuban government’s authority, (3) each family had suffered compensatory damages around $16 to $17 million, and (4) the Cuban Air Force had at least $4.59 billion in assets.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (King, J.)

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