Ontario Court awards $107 million damages to Iran terror victims

In a landmark decision announced on Jan. 3, 2022, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded $107 million in damages to the families of six Canadian citizens who perished in the shoot-down of Ukraine Airlines Flight PS752 by the IRGC outside Tehran.

The award follows a liability determination on May 20, 2021, that found the Iranian regime commited an intentional terrorist act in shooting down the civilian airliner.

The claims were brought under the 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. According to lawyers representing the plaintiffs, the damages decision “is unprecedented in Canadian law.”

On January 8, 2020, the Islamic Republic of Iran fired two missiles into Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 departing Tehran enroute to Kiev causing the aircraft to crash. Approximately 75 Canadians were killed.

Today’s decision follows from the prior, May 20, 2021, Decision of the Court in which it found that the shooting down of the airplane was an intentional terrorist act perpetrated by Iran and the other defendants named in the Claim, the lawyers wrote.

The action was brought by the law firms of Gardiner Miller Arnold LLP, and Weinman, Arnold LLP, along with the International Center for Human Rights in Canada.

Lead attorney Mark Arnold has brought multiple claims against Iran in Canadian courts.

White House to Decide Fate of Frozen Afghan Funds

The Biden administration is currently considering how some $7 billion in Afghan government funds, frozen at the Federal Reserve in September 2021 by the families of 9/11 victims, will be distributed, according to reports in the Hill, the NY Times, and other publications.

The Taliban is claiming the assets as its own, and has won the support of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which sent a letter to the President and to senior Treasury Department officials on December 20, 2021, urging them to release the frozen assets to the Taliban government to avert “imminent mass starvation and the current economic collapse of Afghanistan.”

At the Jan. 28, 2022 hearing, Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn gave the Justice Department until Feb. 11 to file its recommendations for how to dispose of the funds, agreeing to the DoJ claim it needed more time to address

the “many complex and important issues” including Sept. 11 victims’ claims, diplomacy, and the “still evolving” situation in Afghanistan,” Reuters reported.

The DoJ added that

the matters were being fully discussed and were “receiving urgent attention attention at the highest levels of government.”

The Havlish clients are alone among the 9/11 victims’ families to have won a damages award against the Taliban, although attorneys for multiple groups of 9/11 plaintiffs have written the court to intervene in the proceedings.

The Aston Plaintiffs concede they do not have a final, enforceable judgment… Simply stated, the Ashton Plaintiffs are not parties to this enforcement proceeding and have no standing to be heard,” Havlish attorney Timothy B. Fleming wrote the court.

According to an earlier report in the NY Times,

A New York law suggests that even if the other plaintiffs obtain damages judgments and file claims too, the Havlish plaintiffs can argue that because they filed theirs first, they are entitled be paid off first. Their judgment debt is roughly equal to all the assets in the account.

Trump administration favors terror victims over Boeing Iran deal

Judge Castillo’s ruling

opens up a legal mine field for Boeing, and for any other U.S. corporation seeking to do business with the Islamic regime in Iran.

The Trump administration pointedly put national security over trade when it told an Illinois District Court this week that it “does not take a position” on whether the Court should shield aerospace giant Boeing Corp from a lawsuit filed by victims of Iranian state terrorism.

As I wrote at Frontpagemag today:

The family of Shlomo Leibovitch is seeking to collect on a $67 million judgment against Iran for a 2003 terror attack that killed their seven-year old daughter, and sued Boeing to gain access to what it believed were Iranian assets in Boeing’s possession.

Boeing signed a $16 billion deal in 2016 to sell civilian airliners to the state-owned Iran Air, a defendant in numerous lawsuits by victims of Iranian state-sponsored terrorism. In any airplane deal of that size, the purchaser will make advance payments while the aircraft are being produced.

It was those payments the Leibovitch family was seeking to attach and that Boeing was seeking to conceal.

Chief Judge Ruben Castillo ruled on Tuesday that Boeing must produce the contractual documents to the terror victims, to include financial documents relating to advance payments as well as Boeing’s communications with the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control, which licensed the sale during the final weeks of the Obama administration.

Judge Castillo’s ruling is worth reading in full.

When Boeing argued that disclosure of its contract with Iran would “risk destabilizing the purpose of the JCPOA to provide for regional and international peace and security” – a dubious claim at best – Judge Castillo decided to ask the U.S. government for its opinion.

In response, the Justice Department filed a statement of interest, noting that its opinion represented that of the entire Executive Branch.

DoJ said that “the United States does not take a position on whether the Court should order the requested discovery.”

That in itself was a slap in the face to Boeing, and arguably a master step by the Trump White House, since it effectively puts the kibosh on the Boeing Iran deal without explicitly banning it.

Boeing cannot sell aircraft if the deposits its clients make during production are attached by victims of terrorism in the courts.

In his ruling, Judge Castillo examined Boeing’s arguments and found them wanting.

Boeing first argues that Plaintiffs’ motion to compel should be denied because “enforcing Plaintiffs’ [discovery] requests would require the Court to resolve nonjusticiable political questions. (p8)

… [T]he Court agrees with Plaintiffs that Boeing’s reliance on the political question doctrine in misplaced. This Court is being called to decide a discovery dispute, plain and simple. Although the discover sought certainly has “political overtones,” Japan Whaling Ass’n, 478 U.S. at 230, the Court is not deciding any issue at this juncture that is committed to some other branch of the government or for which there are no judicially manageable standards for resolving. [p10-11]

Boeing next argues that the Court should “abstain” from deciding the discovery motion under principles of international comity. But as Judge Castillo points out,

Boeing’s argument on this point is somewhat unclear, but as best as can be discerned, Boeing believes that adjudicating this discovery dispute will “frustrate the purpose” of the Iran Nuclear Deal and offend the other sovereign-nation signatories to the agreement by potentially hindering the airplane deal. [p13]

Judge Castillo finds that argument wanting as well.

In resolving this dispute, the Court will be applying well-settled American law governing discovery disputes, not the law of some other nation. [p14]

Boeing then argues that the discovery requests are “irrelevant” to [Plaintiff’s] efforts to satisfy their judgment” because at present it is unclear if the contract will result in any Iranian assets being located in the United States where they could be attached.

At bottom, Boeing’s argument appears to be that, because it will be difficult or impossible for Plaintiffs to actually collect any money as a result of these discovery requests, the Court should simply deny them as futile.

Boeing misunderstands the nature of this proceeding… Plaintiffs are not actually attaching any assets at present; they are only seeking to discover information about potential assets of Iran that may be attachable. [p16-17]

Going back to my FrontPagemag column from today, Judge Castillo’s ruling

opens up a legal mine field for Boeing, and for any other U.S. corporation seeking to do business with the Islamic regime in Iran.

U.S. courts have awarded victims of Iranian state terrorism 99 separate judgments worth more than $53 billion, nearly half of which are compensatory damages that can be collected against Iranian assets held outside the United States.

…With the Boeing sale now potentially in jeopardy, other corporations are sure to wonder if they, too, could be made to pay the price for the terrorist actions of the Iranian regime.

March 2, 2018

Will U.S. use BNP Paribas settlement to compensate terror victims?

That’s the key question that came out of Friday’s court hearing in New York, where BNP Paribas was formally sentenced to forfeit $8.9 billion to the feds.

The U.S. government announced a system Friday to compensate people harmed by Sudan, Iran and Cuba using some of the $8.9 billion forfeited by France’s largest bank for violating U.S. economic sanctions by processing transactions for clients in blacklisted countries.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein revealed the plan after U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield formally sentenced BNP Paribas consistent with the bank’s guilty plea last year. She said the bank must turn over the forfeiture and pay a $140 million fine. It also pleaded guilty to state charges.

Source: US seeks to compensate victims of Sudan, Iran and Cuba – The Washington Post

But any of the money actually reach terror victims?

Maybe not.

From the same article:

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio noted in a release that $448 million of the BNP forfeiture will go to the Manhattan district attorney’s office and $447 million to the city, some of which will be used to equip all police officers with smartphones.

And for more than a dozen victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa who showed up in court, the announcement that the feds wanted them to file a claim on the funds at http://usvbnpp.com was a let down.

“Total disappointment,” said Marina Kirima, a Seattle resident who worked at the embassy in Kenya when it was bombed. “It’s like starting all over again.”

Justice for Victims of Terrorism

This is the new blog of the Fleming Timmerman Law Group, pllc. We are located in Washington, DC and have been working to help victims of Iranian regime state-sponsored terrorism for the past 18 years.Tim and Ken

Ken Timmerman began working to identify Islamic regime assets on behalf of victims of terrorism in 1997. Tim Fleming joined a consortium of lawyers representing victims of the 9/11 attacks in 2003.

In the picture above, Ken is on the right and Tim is on the left. That’s how we are in real life, as well – a political odd-couple in the fight for justice on behalf of the victims of the Islamic Republic of Iran.