U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth yesterday ordered (PDF) a $44.6 million judgment against the Iranian government for its role in the 1983 terrorist bombings at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The ruling came a week after Lamberth issued a $33.3 million judgment against Iran in a similar case.
In both cases, Lamberth found Iran liable for the bombing in 2010. Since then, a special master has been sorting out the damages claims. Lamberth has handled a number of civil claims in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia related to the 1983 bombings; he issued a $1.2 billion judgment against Iran in one of those cases in December.
The bombing killed 241 people and injured many more. Iran was accused of supporting the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah, which was believed to have carried out the attack.
The two most recent rulings in D.C. federal court, Anderson v. The Islamic Republic of Iran and O’Brien v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, involved service members who were severely injured in the attacks.
Lamberth awarded (PDF) $33 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the families in the Anderson case on March 20. He awarded $44 million yesterday to the families in the O’Brien case.
A lead attorney in both cases, Joseph Peter Drennan of Alexandria, Va., said that he has a few more cases pending related to the 1983 bombing. Drennan said he and other attorneys working on these cases want “justice and accountability against Iran, on behalf of all the Marine families.”
Collecting on the billions of dollars in judgments entered against Iran in the 1983 bombing cases, as well as other state-sponsored terrorism cases, is difficult work, as Lamberth and other judges have noted in previous opinions. Drennan said efforts are underway to seize Iranian assets frozen in U.S. financial institutions.
In both opinions, Lamberth praised the “plaintiffs’ persistent efforts to hold Iran accountable for its cowardly support of terrorism.”
“The Court concludes that defendant Iran must be punished to the fullest extent legally possible for the bombing in Beirut on October 23, 1983,” he wrote. “This Court hopes that the victims and their families may find some measure of solace from this Court’s final judgment.”