Background - Practices (Details)

International Terrorism Litigation


Crowell & Moring has developed an active, successful, and unique practice in obtaining monetary relief for victims of international terrorism and their families. Members of the team have tried to judgment over one dozen cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in this area, and have several more cases pending in that court. In addition, the team has extensive experience handling claims at the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, and also is involved in legislative initiatives in Congress that create opportunities for our clients to recover funds arising from acts of terror.

The most significant matter was our representation of seven American families and the owner of a jumbo passenger jet against the government of Libya for its role in blowing up UTA Flight 772 while flying from North Africa to Paris in 1989, killing 170 persons. In what has been characterized as the "French Lockerbie" case, we obtained a historic judgment in 2008 for over $1.6 billion against the Libyan state, which vigorously defended the case at all stages, and which was instrumental in causing the subsequent Bilateral Settlement between the United States and Libya that resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars for these clients as well as other clients of the firm with cases against Libya.

Other representative matters handled by our team include lawsuits against Iran (1) by former hostages held in Lebanon, including Terry Anderson, the Associated Press journalist who was held for almost seven years, (2) by American and Lebanese victims of the bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983 and 1984, and (3) as a result of assassinations arising from terrorist activities in several other foreign countries. Our team also is handling a lawsuit against Sudan and Iran for the American victims of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998. Team members also have actively participated as lead counsel or amici counsel in several civil terrorism cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Terrorism proceedings involve complex application of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 USC. §§ 1602, et seq.; the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 USC. §§ 2671, et seq.; the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991, 28 USC. § 1350 note; the Export Administration Act of 1979, 50 USC. § 2405(j); the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, 22 USC. § 2371; the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 28 USC. 1605 § (a)(7); the Alien Tort Claim Act, 28 USC. § 1350; the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2000, Public Law 106-386, the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949, 22 U.S.C. Section 1623, and the Libya Claims Resolution Act, Public Law No. 110-301, which resulted in Libya paying $1.5 billion to all American victims of its terror. Team members have substantial experience in these statutes, and their application to possible avenues of monetary redress for damages suffered as the result of international terrorism. In fact, Crowell & Moring played a substantial role in the enactment of the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2000, which led to the payment of millions of dollars to satisfy several of the above-mentioned compensatory damages judgments against Iran.