Willkie Team Recognized as AmLaw Litigators of the Week for $455M Win Against Iran for U.S. Victims of Terrorism

October 7, 2022

Partners Michael Gottlieb and Nicholas Reddick were named The AmLaw Litigation Daily’s “Litigators of the Week” for securing $455 million in damages against the Republic of Iran on behalf of American servicemembers and civilians killed or wounded in terrorist attacks in Iraq.

The publication profiled the honorees in a Q&A article about the significance of the victory, their novel approach to leading the litigation and their ongoing pursuit of justice for veterans and Gold Star families.

Mike and Nick were recognized for their achievements in the yearslong case, which culminated this past week in a final order by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C., adopting the recommendations of U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui. Willkie’s clients will be eligible to recover substantial portions of their $455 million damages awards from the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, among other means.

The case was brought under the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and the article highlighted the way future cases may be able to benefit from the strategies the Willkie litigators used.

“We think, first and foremost, that our case charted a better path for resolving these kinds of default judgment actions,” Nick Reddick said. “We sought to expedite resolution by increasing our investment on the front end with more robust witness attestations, expert reports, and victim declarations, as well as accompanying documentary evidence obtained from our Freedom of Information Act litigation, and then sought judgment on the papers rather than a live evidentiary trial.”

Mike Gottlieb emphasized how the litigation required a concerted team effort, noting the contributions of associates Samuel Hall, Devin Ringger, Kristin Bender, Anna Jugo and Timothy Ryan and paralegals Ashley Moore and Danny Weinfeld.

On what he will remember most about this matter, Mike commented: “These cases introduced us to heroic and inspirational people who have responded to traumatic and life-altering events with strength, courage, and work to help better our country.”

Willkie and co-counsel first filed the suit in 2019 on behalf of veterans and Gold Star families seeking to hold Iran accountable for material support and resources it provided to terrorist cells in Iraq. The court found that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, acting through its Hezbollah Division and Qods Force, provided hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to different terrorist groups in Iraq, as well as weapons, training, and safe harbor. The case involved numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against federal agencies in order to obtain the documentary evidence needed to prove plaintiffs’ claims, and the information obtained from them was instrumental in the team’s ability to establish Iran’s liability for each of the attacks at issue.

Read more about the decision here.

 

Read The AmLaw Litigation Daily “Litigators of the Week” article here (subscription may be required).