New York Times: Describing his ruling as woefully inadequate, a federal judge today ordered Iran to pay $2.65 billion to relatives of the 241 American military people killed in a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and to 26 survivors of the attack. The New York Times
By DAVID STOUT
Published: September 7, 2007
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 Describing his ruling as woefully inadequate, a federal judge today ordered Iran to pay $2.65 billion to relatives of the 241 American military people killed in a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and to 26 survivors of the attack.
This court is sadly aware that there is little it can do to heal the physical wounds and emotional scars, Judge Royce C. Lamberth said in United States District Court, where he handed down a ruling that is likely to remain symbolic.
These individuals, whose hearts and souls were forever broken, waited patiently for nearly a quarter-century for justice to be done, the judge said. His ruling was issued more than four years after he found Iran responsible for the Oct. 23, 1983, bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and entered a judgment against that country.
Nearly 1,000 plaintiffs, including 26 miliary people who survived the suicide bombing, now have the courts backing in trying to seize Iranian assets around the world. But how they would do that is unclear, since Iran is estranged from the United States, has denied responsibility for the attack and did not even respond to the lawsuit.
In finding four years ago that Iran was indeed responsible, Judge Lamberth said it was beyond question that the truck bombing was carried out by the terrorist group Hezbollah with the help of senior Iranian officials. Most of the dead were marines; 18 sailors and 3 soldiers were also victims.
Symbolic or not, Judge Lamberths ruling on Friday was cheered by hundreds of people who jammed the courtroom. This is a sense of victory, of winning a battle, Paul Rivers, who was a 20-year-old marine in 1983, told The Associated Press. He was buried in the rubble for two hours and suffered a punctured eardrum.
Judge Lamberth took many factors into account in deciding the amount of each award: $8 million for the spouse of a dead serviceman, for instance; $5 million for the parents and children of a victim, and $2.5 million for a victims brother or sister.
The judge also listed the injuries, many of them horrific, suffered by those who were not killed, and how much money they should get. For example, Marine Corporal Rodney D. Burnette of Charlotte, N.C., suffered a skull fracture, another head injury, rib injuries, injuries to both feet and ear damage.
Perhaps worst of all, he was initially thought to be dead, so he was placed in a body bag and left in the morgue for four days, until someone heard him moaning in pain. He was awarded $8 million.