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May 2019: Appellate Victory Before D.C. Circuit In Terrorism Case

May 2019

Quinn Emanuel won an important appellate victory for seven Kenyan nationals whose immediate family member, Moses Kinyua, was severely injured in the 1998 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, where he worked.  Mr. Kinyua never fully recovered from his injuries and died in 2012.  In 2014, Mr. Kinyua’s family (represented by a different firm) filed wrongful death claims against Sudan and Iran in the D.C. District Court for the states’ respective roles in sponsoring the terrorist attack on the embassy.

Sudan filed a motion to dismiss the Kinyua family’s claims on the asserted basis that the claims were time barred under the applicable statutes of limitations.  The district court granted Sudan’s motion.  Iran, however, had failed to appear and therefore defaulted.  Nevertheless, the district court also dismissed the claims against Iran on statute of limitations grounds.  The Kinyua family thought they were too late and out of luck.

Then the family hired Quinn Emanuel as their appellate counsel.  On appeal, the firm argued that the district court exceeded its authority in invoking the statute of limitations sua sponte on behalf of a defaulting defendant like Iran.  The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and reinstated the family’s claims against Iran.  As a result, the Kinyua family is now in a position to recover from the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which provides compensation to eligible U.S. persons (and their families) who hold judgments against state sponsors of terrorism.