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U.S. Supreme Court Backs $10 Billion Award to Sudan Bomb Victims

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 5/18/2020 Greg Farrell
a close up of a building: The U.S. Supreme Court stands in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Lawmakers continue negotiations over the next round of coronavirus stimulus legislation, with a Senate Democrat saying today that a handful of Republicans could be on board with a proposal to send $500 billion in funding to states. © Bloomberg The U.S. Supreme Court stands in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Lawmakers continue negotiations over the next round of coronavirus stimulus legislation, with a Senate Democrat saying today that a handful of Republicans could be on board with a proposal to send $500 billion in funding to states.

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the victims of the 1998 Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more, saying that the Republic of Sudan could be held liable for both punitive and compensatory damages.

The ruling on Monday leaves Sudan exposed to a $10.2 billion judgment delivered by a federal court in 2012, which was partially overturned on appeal.

The 2014 appellate ruling determined that a 2008 law that allowed compensatory damages to be applied retroactively to cases involving state sponsors of terrorism didn’t extend to punitive damages. Accordingly, it cut $4.3 billion from the judgment.

In its unanimous ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court said it was clear that Congress intended the 2008 law to compensate victims and punish wrongdoers. The opinion will allow foreign nationals who worked for the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to pursue the full amount awarded in 2012.

“The Supreme Court has reaffirmed Sudan’s guilt and the basic American principle that the value of a life is not dependent on where a person is born,” Doreen Oport, who worked in the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and was badly injured in the attack, said in a written statement.

During arguments before the Supreme Court in February, the Trump administration weighed in on behalf of the victims, shifting course from its stance in previous terrorism cases, when the administration declined to support civil suits brought by victims.

The case is Opati v. Republic of Sudan (17-1268).

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