September 21, 2010 - Mwani v. Al Qaeda
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia fixed January 31, 2011 through February 4, 2011 for a "bellwether" default judgment hearing,
and ruled that the plaintiffs will be permitted to adduce testimony by videoconference from Nairobi, Kenya. As counsel for over 500 Kenyan plaintiffs,
the firm, with co-counsel at Musolino & Dessel, sought the bellwether hearing and the videoconference procedure in order to facilitate the damages phase
of the case arising out of the 1998 embassy bombing.
January 7, 2010 - Court Approves Firm's Proposed Procedures for Calculation of Damages from Embassy Bombing.
The federal district court in Mwani v. United States et.al. approved bellwether hearings as a methodology for determining damages against non-US government defendants in a case arising out of the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing. Bellwether hearings minimize or eliminate the need to take live testimony from each of the hundreds of individual plaintiffs in the case by permitting testimony to be applied, where appropriate, from some plaintiffs and experts, to the claims of other plaintiffs. In a companion ruling, the court analyzed without deciding the complex choice of law questions which must be decided in an international mass tort claim brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act.
May 26, 2009 - Firm Wins in Ninth Circuit "Prime Bank Instrument" Appeal.
In Angelov et.al. v. Wilshire State Bank et.al, the Ninth Circuit agreed with the firm's contention that a large and successful California bank could be sued for negligence, conversion and other claims arising out of the bank's association with a "prime bank instrument" scam.
Representing an American non-profit organization and a foreign investor defrauded of millions of dollars by promoters selling investments in fictional prime bank-to-prime bank commercial instruments, the firm attacked the role of the bank in facilitating the fraud. As the complaint alleged, the promoters were customers of the bank, and used the bank and its facilities to provide an aura of legitimacy to the proposed transactions. The Ninth Circuit agreed that those allegations, and the bank's own misconduct as alleged by plaintiffs was not only sufficient to meet pleadings requirements for negligence and conversion, but could also constitute breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
April 14, 2008 - Firm Prevails in Supreme Court Certiorari Petition.
The United States Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari filed by the United Arab Emirates and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in El-Hadad v. United Arab Emirates 07-853. Petitioners sought to overturn a two million dollar verdict obtained by the firm for its client by arguing that the District of Columbia's treatment of Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA") defenses conflicted with treatment by other circuits.
Working on the opposition to the petition with trial and appellate co-counsel at Musolino & Dessel, and with Supreme Court co-counsel at Mayer Brown and the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic, the firm emphasized the fact-laden nature of the appellate challenges, as well as the harmony among the circuits in their treatment of the commercial activities exception to the FSIA's immunity provisions.
July 27, 2007 — Firm Wins Affirmance in US Court of Appeals in Sovereign Immunities Case Against UAE.
In El-Hadad v. United Arab Emirates et.al. 06-7075, The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed in almost all respects the trial court's judgment after bench trial in favor of former embassy auditor El-Hadad against the United Arab Emirates and its embassy in Washington.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's findings and conclusions that the commercial activities exception in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA") applied, and that the defendants breached their contract with el-Hadad, defamed him and acted in bad faith. The Court of Appeals remanded solely to discount the lost future earnings portion of the $1.75 million damages award to present value.
The firm and its co-counsel at Musolino & Dessel successfully argued the FSIA issue for the second time in the Circuit, having received three favorable trial rulings on that issue over the 10 year history of the litigation.
December 1, 2005—Firm Wins $72 Million Dollar Judgment Against Sudan and State Bank.
In MFK et.al. v. Sudan et.al., in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the firm won on behalf of two international clients a $72,000,000.00 judgment against Sudan and the Bank of Sudan. The claim arose out of a series of promissory notes. It was prosecuted under the commercial activities exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
August 30, 2005—Firm Prevails for Plaintiffs On Securities Litigation Motion to Dismiss.
In Burman et.al. v. Phoenix et.al., in a 37 page opinion, the trial court rejected in
almost all respects a motion to dismiss based in large part on the Private Securities
Litigation Reform Act. The firm, on behalf of multiple plaintiffs, is seeking to recover
damages resulting from securities violations and related misconduct by a Florida company.
August 5, 2005—Firm Prevails in US Court of Appeals on Personal Jurisdiction Over Terrorists in Civil Cases.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in Mwani v. Osama bin Laden et.al. 04-5266, concluded that the Kenyan victims of the August 7, 1998 terrorist bombing of the American Embassy had established personal jurisdiction over defendants al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Reversing the trial court's decision, the appellate court agreed with the firm's argument that a federal court was empowered to assess contacts nationally, rather than only in the District of Columbia.
As Judge Garland wrote: The defendants "engaged in unabashedly malignant actions directed at and felt in this country. Bin Laden and al Qaeda should therefore reasonably anticipate being haled into court here by those injured as a result of those actions, regardless of the plaintiffs' nationality.
"The Circuit Court also concluded that plaintiffs' claims "would appear to fall well within...the narrow set of claims..." available under the Alien Tort Claims Act, as defined by the Supreme Court in its 2004 decision in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain 124 S.Ct. 2739 (2004).
The Department of the Treasury, through its Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC"), and pursuant to EOs 13224, 12947, and 13099 is currently holding millions of dollars of frozen assets of the defendants.