Khobar Towers

CASE SUMMARY

ESTATE OF MICHAEL HEISER et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al. Civil Action No. 00-2329 (RCL)

consolidated with

ESTATE OF MILLARD D. CAMPBELL et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al.  Civil Action No. 01-2104 (RCL)

D.D.C. , 2004

  • A crater 85 feet wide and 35 feet deep stood where the truck had been.
  • Engineering order from the multi-party chaos, Dr. Engleberg proved a calming force and had a learned ear to unite all of the plaintiffs and their chosen attorneys in the shared goal of holding the defendants, Iran and the two named arms of its government, accountable for their role in the attack
  • The human toll numbered 19 dead servicemen, over 500 injured Americans, and 297 peaceful citizens of Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh.

After Desert Storm, certain members of the Air Force were deployed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on a peacetime assignment to monitor compliance with the U.N. Security Council’s resolution that a no-fly zone in nearby southern Iraq be maintained. For the duration of the mission, the Airmen were housed in Khobar Towers, a residential complex.

On June 25, 1996, the truck that had been denied entry into Khobar Towers earlier in the day returned and was now parked on the other side of the fence-line near Building 131, after the driver left it there and was picked up by another car. Security for the area was aware and had taken the first steps to investigate.

Fifteen minutes elapsed.

The truck exploded.

A crater 85 feet wide and 35 feet deep stood where the truck had been. Next to the crater was building 131, now partly collapsed and with a sheered-off face on the side that had been facing the perimeter. The human toll numbered 19 dead servicemen, over 500 injured Americans, and 297 peaceful citizens of Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh.

The attack, carried out by Saudi Hezbollah, was approved by Ayatollah Khameini, Iran’s Supreme Leader. Other Iranian government officials were instrumental in the organization, support, and management of the operation, including the Iranian Minister of Intelligence and Security.

In 2002, six years later, the family members of 17 of the 19 Airmen, along with several of the injured, filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Minister of Intelligence and Security (“MOIS”), and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the emotional price they paid as a result of the attack and for civil conspiracy.

The suit was based on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which sets forth the only defendants; the court found for the plaintiffs, awarding the Estate and surviving family members of Millard D. Campbell $1,572,314.00 in economic damages, plus a total of $13 million for two of Campbell’s closest family members. The Estate and surviving family members of Michael Heiser were awarded $3,720,019.00 in economic damages to the estate and an additional total of $10 million dollars to his family and personal representatives, Fran and Gary Heiser.

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