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US appeals court rules terror victim's brother can collect Iran lawsuit judgment

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] 2-1 Wednesday that the brother of dissident Cyrus Elahi, assassinated in Paris in 1990, can collect on a default judgment he holds against Iran by attaching a $2.8 million judgment obtained by the Iranian Ministry of Defense against California-based Cubic Defense Systems [corporate website]. Dariush Elahi was awarded $11.7 million in compensatory and $300 million in punitive damages after Iran refused to respond to his 2000 lawsuit brought in a Washington federal court, alleging that the Iranian government was responsible for his brother's death. Iran originally won the $2.8 million judgment against Cubic before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) [official website] for Cubic's contract breach following the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 [Wikipedia backgrounder].

Both the United States and Iran, currently resolving similar disputes at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal [official website] in The Hague, argued in court that Elahi had relinquished his claim to the remainder of his judgment after collecting $2.3 million from the US government pursuant to the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 [PDF text]. Iran also argued that its judgment was immune from attachment under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) [text], but the court rejected that argument because Cubic was an agency of a commercial nature. David Bederman, an attorney representing Iran in this case, has indicated that Iran will seek an en banc hearing to challenge the decision. AP has more.

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