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Murphy v. Islamic Republic of Iran
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
740 F. Supp. 2d 51 (2010)
Following the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) (defendant) helped fund the Shi’ite radical organization, Hezbollah. The government of Iran supported Hezbollah in its terrorist activities aimed at converting the government of Lebanon into an Islamic theocracy. In 1983, the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS) sent a message to the Iranian ambassador in Syria directing the ambassador to contact the leadership of Hezbollah and instruct the leadership to take action against the United States Marines. On October 23, 1983, a Hezbollah suicide bomber attacked the United States Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The Beirut bombing resulted in the deaths of 241 American military servicemen and injured many others. In Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 515 F. Supp. 2d 25 (D.D.C. 2007), the court held Iran and MOIS responsible for the Beirut bombing. However, when Peterson was decided, the district court reached its decision under Section 1605(a)(7) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a provision that forbade punitive damages and that resulted in inconsistent results in subsequent cases. Congress amended Section 1605(a)(7), replacing it with Section 1605A, allowing for suits for terrorist actions and providing for punitive damages. Here, the injured servicemen and the families of the dead servicemen (plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit under Section 1605A of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), seeking retroactive application of Section 1605A to their claims against Iran.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lamberth, C.J.)
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