Pensacola Law Firm Obtains Final Judgment of $984M+ Against Islamic Republic of Iran for Killing Americans in Iraq

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Pensacola Law Firm Obtains Final Judgment of $984M+ Against Islamic Republic of Iran for Killing Americans in Iraq

The judgment is in favor of 111 U.S. service members and Gold Star family clients with claims arising from 12 terrorist attacks in Iraq.

Levin Papantonio (LP) Attorney Chris Paulos and the firm’s Counterterrorism Department have obtained a final judgment in a lawsuit against the Islamic Republic of Iran and several of its state-owned banks and military/intelligence agencies (ESTATE OF CHRISTOPHER BROOK FISHBECK, et al., Plaintiffs, v. THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, et al., Defendants 18-cv-2248 (CRC). 

The case involves members of the U.S. military and U.S. contractors who were killed or injured in terrorist attacks in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Fishbeck Judgment

In Fishbeck, the Court entered a final judgment finding the Defendants liable for providing material support to the terrorists that conducted the attacks and awarded monetary damages in amounts as follows:

  • Pain & Suffering or Solatium Damages: $284,599,000.00
  • Economic Damages: $43,261,454.57
  • Punitive Damages: $655,720,909.00
  • Total Damages: $983,581,364.00

About the Fishbeck Cases Against the Islamic Republic of Iran

The lawsuit includes approximately 1400 plaintiffs who alleged that Iran and several of its state agencies provided money, weapons, training, and safe haven to the terrorist groups responsible for the attacks.

“This case, this judgement, touches the very essence of SSG Joshua R Hager, US Army Ranger.  While his death is what is mentioned, it is his life that is honored.  Josh died an Army Ranger, but he lived as an Army Ranger and when our Nation called, he said, ‘Here I am, send me.’
  
My experience never gets better, but it does get different, and this judgement will make a difference, not because of money, but because of tribute and honor properly paid to a Ranger.

God bless.”

Kris Hager, Gold Star father of SSG Joshua R. Hager, US Army Ranger.  KIA Iraq, Feb. 22, 2997Author Name

During trial, the Plaintiffs presented evidence from service members who survived the attacks, eyewitnesses, and multiple experts whose testimony, along with over 1,000 exhibits, the Court found sufficiently connected Iran’s support to the terror groups’ ability to plan and execute each of the attacks.

Levin Papantonio brought the lawsuit under the state-sponsored terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Usually, foreign governments are immune from civil suits in the United States. However, this exception permits victims of terrorism to seek monetary damages from governments that the United States has labeled state sponsors of terrorism.

Overcoming Sovereign Immunity Challenges

The LP Counterterrorism Department worked for six years building the case against Iran and the state entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), to prove their support for the groups that systematically targeted and killed American soldiers in Iraq. The Plaintiffs also proved that Iran used its Central Bank and Bank Melli Iran to launder money and fund a multitude of terrorist groups that flocked to Iraq to attack and kill Americans serving there.

Paulos, who leads LP’s Counterterrorism Department, explained that because the case involves a foreign country and because Iran purposefully implements a litigation strategy to ignore any case accusing it of supporting of terrorism, Plaintiffs in these cases are robbed of the opportunity to confront Iran and obtain discovery from the defendants. 

Despite this strategic “gaslighting” and the inability to confront Iran directly in court, the narrow exception to Iran’s sovereign immunity still requires plaintiffs to prove every element of their case to the complete satisfaction of the Court, according to Paulos.

“This jurisdictional and evidentiary threshold is based upon the enormous deference and comity U.S. law and courts afford foreign nations—even those who actively seek to kill Americans,” Paulos said. 

“The case that Levin Papantonio entrusted its Counterterrorism team to build against Iran is of a breadth and scope never before attempted in terrorism or sovereign immunity litigation,” Paulos continued. The team was tasked with building a record of evidence necessary to prove that Iran, through its military, financial, and natural resource agencies, funneled hundreds of millions of dollars and lethal aid to nine separate Iraq-based terrorist organizations over a period of nearly a decade.”

The Historic Ruling That Changed Everything

A pivotal moment in the Fishbeck case, according to Paulos, came in March 2023, when the federal District Court in Washington D.C. issued an order finding that Iran, IRGC, MOIS, and the banks were liable for providing a panoply of material support to all nine terrorist groups in Iraq.

“With that ruling by the Court in place, we’ve proven that Iran’s material support was essential to these specific terrorist groups and that terrorist attacks in Iraq involving these groups between 2003-2011 were reasonably foreseeable and a natural consequence of that material support—in other words, the Court found that the Defendants’ support caused the attacks against our clients,” Paulos explained.

“There has never been any other case that has ever achieved a global ruling of material support and reasonable foreseeability involving as many separate terrorist organizations, continuing over such a long period of time, or encompassing such a large geographic region,” Paulos said. 

“No other prior case involving Iranian-supported attacks against U.S. Service members has singularly obtained a similar finding involving as many defendants and terrorist organizations, for any specified window of time, that applies to all plaintiffs in the case,” Paulos added.

Having established the Defendants’ systemic and prolonged support for the terrorist groups and the essential nature of such support, the LP litigation team next set forth proving that one or more of those specific groups were involved in the planning and commission of the attacks that targeted LP’s clients.

The final judgment of $983,581,364.00 recently obtained by LP for 111 of the Fishbeck plaintiffs represents the result of the law firm successfully proving that those groups were responsible for the first 12 of the nearly 430 terrorist attacks at issue in the Fishbeck case.

“This is a great result of years of hard work by the Counterterrorism Team at Levin Papantonio—a firm that walks the walk when it comes to pursuing causes, not cases,” Paulos said. “Years of hard work is now coming to fruition, but there are ‘miles to go before we sleep.’

“And so, while we celebrate this historic judgment, we will keep marching forward to complete our ultimate task: getting all of our amazing clients the justice they so greatly deserve,” Paulos said.