On November 28, 2011, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia analyzed the state sponsor of terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act with respect to local hires of the U.S. government serving at embassies abroad.
The 45-page opinion in Owens v. Republic of Sudan, docket number 01-2244, examines the law and the alleged facts in the context of defaults by several foreign-nation defendants. The court finds that it has subject-matter jurisdiction under the FSIA exception and determines liability satisfactory to the Court under 28 U.S.C. §1608(e).
One of the difficulties of the case are the claims of foreign national family members of victims. These relatives of local hires lack a federal cause of action but may continue to pursue claims under applicable state and/or foreign law, the court notes; id. at 38.
The court also resolves the complex choice of law questions presented in this case, i.e. District of Columbia law, Tanzania law, Kenya law, or the laws of the domicile of each plaintiff, in favor of D.C. law. Judgment on liability is ordered against each defendant. The court finally refers the individual claims to a special master. -- Clemens Kochinke, partner, Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, LLP, Washington, DC.