By Haggai Carmon
In a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the grandson of an assassinated Iranian general has been granted the right to have additional hearings on a foreign sovereignty case that was originally dismissed by a D.C. District Court judge in 2007. The Appeals Court judge has ruled that French law be consulted in determining damages.
Amir Reza Oveissi’s grandfather was murdered on a busy street in Paris in 1984. The terrorist group Hezbollah took responsibility for the killing, and the California-born Oveissi brought suit against Iran and its Ministry of Information and Security in 2003. He argued that the murder of his grandfather had been a terrorist act sponsored by the state of Iran, a country officially recognized in the U.S. as a state sponsor of terror. He sought and is still seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.
The case was originally dismissed because the grandfather – General Gholam Ali Oveissi – was a citizen of Iran and so he, if he had survived the attack, would not have been able to sue Iran under the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, as his grandson is now doing. Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that under California law, Oveissi could not proceed. Even though Judge Lamberth found Iran responsible for the elder Oveissi’s death, he did not believe that damages could be procured through the U.S. court system.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, however, ruled that because the plaintiff was living in France at the time of the shooting, it should be French law – not California law – that be applied when determining damages.