Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ministry of Defense of Iran v. Cubic Defense Systems (9th Cir. - May 30, 2007)

It's not every day you see the Ministry of Defense of Iran (technically, "The Ministry of Defense and Support for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as successor in interest to the Ministry of War of the Government of Iran") as the plaintiff-appellant in a Ninth Circuit appeal. But it happens here.

It's a complex matter, both procedurally and substantively. Basically, in 1990, Iran assassinated Dr. Cyrus Elahi in Paris, and his brother subsequently got a default judgment against Iran in federal district court in D.C. for $311.7 million. Then, of course, came the tough part: collecting. The brother did a variety of things, and got some money from the U.S. government, but then -- and this is what gave rise to the appeal -- sought to attach a $2.8 million judgment that Iran had obtained in the ICC against Cubic (for, not surprisingly, refusing to deliver weapons to the new government after the Iranian revolution).

I'll spare you the complicated procedural history (including a trip up to the Supremes), though it's actually an interesting case. In the end, Judge Betty Fletcher decides that the attachment was valid under section 201 of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, and Judge Fisher dissents.

Not your usual, run-of-the-mill appeal.

P.S. - How'd you like to go around and tell your friends "Guess who I represented today? The Ministry of Defense of Iran." Not many attorneys can (truthfully) say that. But Anthony J. Van Patten and Mina Almassi (whose last name is misspelled by the Ninth Circuit as "Amassi") have precisely such a client.

Which kicks my butt. The largest foreign government I ever represented was Gabon. Though, in my defense, unlike here, I won. That said, the Gabonese Republic is perhaps a tiny bit more sympathetic than the Ministry of Defense of Iran.