United States District Court, D. ColumbiaJan 11, 2005
Civil Action No. 01-850 (CKK) (D.D.C. Jan. 11, 2005)

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Civil Action No. 01-850 (CKK).

January 11, 2005


On December 2, 2002, this Court entered a judgment, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(7), in favor of Plaintiff, France Rafii, and against the Islamic Republic of Iran ("Iran") and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security ("MOIS") for the damages she suffered resulting from the murder of her father by agents of Defendants. The Court awarded Plaintiff $5 million in compensatory damages against Iran and MOIS, jointly and severally, and $300 million in punitive damages against MOIS. In December 2002, and May 2003, Plaintiff served five writs of attachment seeking to enforce her December 2, 2002, judgment entered by this Court. The United States subsequently moved to quash these writs in a series of filings entered in early 2003. Bank of America Account No. 39910000120887, titled "Iranian Diplomatic and Consular Property Renovation Account" ("First Account"), and Bank of America Account No. 2086355542, titled "U.S. Department of State, Office of Foreign Missions, Iranian Renovation Account" ("Second Account"), were among the several accounts potentially subject to Plaintiff's writs.

On March 31, 2004, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order expressing its finding that the United States motion to quash should be granted because the Court's December 2, 2002, judgement against Iran and MOIS was contrary to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Cicippio-Pueleo v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 353 F.3d 1024 (D.C. Cir. 2004). In the alternative, the Court found that sovereign immunity would bar attachment of the First and Second Accounts with the Bank of America and that the Third and Fourth Accounts with the bank were not within the possession or control of the United States and, therefore, not subject to attachment pursuant to Plaintiff's writ against the United States Department of Treasury. See Rafii v. Islamic Republic of Iran, Civ. No. 01-850, at 3 n. 2 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2004) (Memorandum Opinion). The Court, however, did not vacate Plaintiff's judgment, and instead gave Plaintiff an opportunity to submit briefing as to why her judgment should not be vacated. Moreover, the Court's Order only specifically addressed one of the five writs issued by Plaintiff. See Rafii v. Islamic Republic of Iran, Civ. No. 01-850 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2004) (Order directing that "Plaintiff's Writ of Attachment served on the United States Department of Treasury is QUASHED").

The United States, in a filing on October 16, 2004, essentially renewed its previous motion to quash, explicitly identifying all five writs and the relevant accounts potentially subject to the writs. See generally United States' Third Mot. to Quash. In its filing, the United States assumed that, under this Court's March 31, 2004, ruling, only the December 30, 2002, writ served on the Treasury Department was quashed, and that the other four writs are currently in effect, pending further ruling by the Court. Id. at 2. "For the sake of clarity and completeness," the United States moved to quash in full the 2002 Bank of America writ, which includes the First and Second Accounts at the Bank of America and three parcels of real property. Id. The United States also renewed its motion to quash the May 2003 writ on the Treasury Department, the May 2003 writ on the Defense Department, and the May 2003 writ on the State Department. Id.

Importantly, in her Opposition to the United States' Third Motion to Quash, Plaintiff explicitly concedes any claim of attachment to the First and Second Accounts with the Bank of America. Pl.'s Opp'n to United States' Third Mot. to Quash ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 1-2 n. 1. In her filing, Plaintiff proffered that she

is not opposing the United States motion with respect to Rafii's writs of attachment of the so-called First and Second Accounts with the Bank of America which contain funds out of which Congress has specified that payment may be made to certain persons with judgment against Iran (Rafii's suit was not included in the Congressional legislation that authorized payment from these designed funds to certain claimants).
Id. at n. 1. According to Plaintiff, because of this concession, her writs of attachment "will not prevent the United States from making payment to the plaintiff in Kapar v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al, C.A. No. 02-CV-78-HHK." Id. In its Reply, the United States indicates that it "strongly supports plaintiff's decision" not to contest the motion to quash as to the First and Second Accounts with the Bank of America, particularly because the effect of Plaintiff's outstanding writs against these accounts is to interfere with the United States' ability to fulfill congressional directives contained in the Victims of Terrorism and Violence Protection Act ("Victims Protection Act"), Pub.L. No. 106-386, 114 Stat. 1464 (Oct. 28, 2000), as amended by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act ("TRIA"), Pub.L. No. 107-297, 116 Stat. 2322 (Nov. 26, 2002). United States' Reply at n. 1. These acts direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make payment to certain persons with judgments against Iran out of certain funds, including funds contained in the First and Second Accounts. See Victims Protection Act, § 2002(b)(2), 114 Stat. at 1543. Plaintiff in the instant case is not designated as a person eligible under the Victims Protection Act and TRIA to receive funds from the First and Second Accounts. The United States, like Plaintiff Rafii, also identifies the plaintiff in Kapar as being eligible to receive payments from the First and Second Accounts, with Plaintiff Rafii's writ against those accounts standing as a "cloud" over the property preventing disbursement. United States' Reply at n. 1.

At this time, the Court shall hereby reserve its ruling as to the other writs and accounts relevant to the United States' Third Motion to Quash, and shall also reserve its ruling as to Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law Opposing Vacatur of Her Judgment. However, based on Plaintiff's concession, and to facilitate the payment of plaintiff in Kapar from the funds earmarked in the First and Second Accounts, it is hereby

ORDERED that the writ of attachment served by Plaintiff on garnishee Bank of America, N.A., is VACATED WITHOUT PREJUDICE with respect to the accounts denominated as the "First Account" and "Second Account" in the filings made by the parties and in the Answers to Interrogatories in Attachment filed by the Bank of America.