The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia awarded an $807 million judgment to victims and families of the USS Cole bombing. The 25 sailors and 33 members of their immediate families filed a lawsuit against the country of Iran under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). They were represented by The Carlson Law Firm, P.C., Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and the Law Office of Dejon R. Lewis.
On March 16, 2023, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras found that Iran facilitated the attack on the USS Cole, offering material support and resources such as money, traveling assistance, and training to Al-Qaeda. Accordingly, Judge Contreras ruled that Iran is liable for the sailors’ damages under the FSIA.
The USS Cole was a U.S destroyer that was attacked in Yemen on October 12, 2000 by members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group. While the Cole was refueling, a small boat armed with bombs approached and detonated, ripping a 40-foot hole in the ship. Tragically, the terrorist attack killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured around 40 crew members.
“Since the attack, many of our clients have dealt with debilitating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Carlson Law Firm’s Managing Partner Craig Carlson said. “Even decades later, their PTSD causes nightmares, substance abuse, and significant anxiety—particularly when attending events involving loud noises. The family members have also suffered as they have lived with the emotional toll the Cole attack has taken on their loved ones.”
The $807 million judgment breaks down as follows:
- Directly injured plaintiffs were awarded $128.75 million in damages for pain and suffering.
- Families of crew members were awarded $74 million in solatium damages.
- Plaintiffs were awarded a total of $605.25 million in punitive damages.
While no amount of money can replace what was lost by the sailors and their families, the judgment against Iran shows them and other veterans that justice can be sought on their behalf, no matter who they’re up against.
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