The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that several banks must turn over Sudanese assets to satisfy a $315 million default judgment for victims who sued Sudan over the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer, finding country was properly served with the lawsuit. The Plaintiffs were not required to send a copy of their suit alleging Sudan supplied materials to al-Qaida, the attack’s perpetrator, to the nation’s capital of Khartoum to satisfy the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act’s (FSIA) service requirements, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin wrote in the opinion. Mailing the summons, complaint and subsequent documents to the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C., was sufficient, Judge Chin explained. The judge wrote in his opinion:
Nothing in [the FSIA] requires that the papers be mailed to a location in the foreign state, and the method chosen by plaintiffs — a mailing addressed to the minister of foreign affairs at the embassy — was consistent with the language of the statute and could reasonably be expected to result in delivery to the intended person.
In the 2000 attack, an “explosive-laden skiff” pulled up to where the USS Cole was docked in a Yemen port. Seventeen sailors were killed and 42 injured when the explosives were detonated. Fifteen of the sailors and three of their spouses sued Sudan in a D.C. federal court in 2010 under the FSIA. It was alleged that the country supplied materials to al-Qaida, the terrorist organization thought responsible for the attack.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth granted the Plaintiffs a $315 million default judgment in 2012, after Sudan failed to answer the original complaint or file a responsive pleading despite having been served with the lawsuit through its embassy in D.C. The Plaintiffs then successfully petitioned New York’s Southern District for a turnover of the country’s assets held by various banks, including Mashreq Bank, BNP Paribas, and Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank. Sudan appealed the court’s three turnover orders in January 2014, about a month after the first was entered.
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