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Federal Appeals Court Affirms Multi-Billion Judgment for Victims of 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania

Washington – July 30, 2017: A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday ruled that Sudan must pay billions of dollars in damages to victims and their families of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania for its role in harboring and financing the terrorists who carried out the attacks.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upholds much of a U.S. District Court decision that was originally handed down in 2014.  Eleven of the Americans who were killed in the Nairobi attack, and their families, are represented by a Crowell & Moring team led by partner Stuart H. Newberger. The ruling also stands to benefit hundreds of other victims of both bombings, and their families, who are represented by several other law firms. Numerous lawsuits alleging that Sudan and Iran both helped to facilitate the dual terrorist attacks were first filed in 2001. Friday’s ruling upheld the trial court judgments against Sudan, as Iran had refused to appear and was held in default several years ago.

“After what has been a long struggle in court for the families, we are very pleased that the D.C. Circuit has affirmed the trial court’s decision holding Sudan responsible for these heinous and devastating attacks on our diplomatic outposts in East Africa. We are hopeful that this ruling brings us closer to reaching a final resolution with Sudan that will allow the American families we are honored to represent to achieve some closure,” Newberger said.

More than 200 people, including 12 Americans, were killed in nearly simultaneous suicide truck bomb explosions at the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and in Nairobi, Kenya on August 7, 1998.

In a meticulous 130-page opinion, Senior Circuit Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, writing for the Court, detailed much of the evidence demonstrating that Sudan provided substantial, material assistance to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda through much of the 1990s, when it harbored and nurtured that terrorist organization within the country. The Court found that “Sudan’s actions in the 1990s were undoubtedly a substantial factor in the sequence of responsible causation that led to the [1998] embassy bombings.” The Court went on to state: “[T]he bombings were reasonably foreseeable or anticipated as a natural consequence” of the material support that Sudan had provided to al Qaeda during that period.

“I’m proud and appreciative that we’ve finally reached this milestone,” said Edith Bartley, a spokesperson for the surviving American family members. Her father, a career diplomat serving as Consul General, and her college-age brother were both killed in the Nairobi Embassy bombing. “Many families have had to seek ongoing medical support for physical injuries and emotional challenges following this traumatic life-altering event.”

In addition to Newberger, the firm’s litigation team includes partners Clifton S. Elgarten and Aryeh S. Portnoy, counsel John L. Murino, and associates Emily Alban and Joanna Coyne.

Newberger has represented victims of state-sponsored terrorism and their families for more than two decades, including victims of the Iran-Contra hostage crisis, the suicide bombings of the U.S. embassies in Lebanon in 1983 and 1984, and the suitcase bombing of French airliner UTA Flight 772 in 1989, the last of which he has chronicled in a recently released book, The Forgotten Flight: Terrorism, Diplomacy, and the Pursuit of Justice.

The D.C. Circuit ruling comes nearly two years after Congress passed extraordinary legislation creating a victims compensation fund for those who were injured in acts of international state-sponsored terrorism and have been unable to collect on court judgments against terrorist states such as Iran. Crowell & Moring played a significant role in the legislative process and is representing several hundred victims and their families eligible to receive payments from the compensation fund, which is administered by Special Master Kenneth R. Feinberg and the U.S. Department of Justice; the first disbursements from that fund were made earlier this year.

About Crowell & Moring LLP

Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with approximately 500 lawyers representing clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory, and transactional matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity. The firm has offices in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, London, and Brussels.


An Pham
Senior Communications Manager