USS Cole lawsuit was served at wrong place, SCOTUS rules; $315M judgment reversed
USS Cole/Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Sailors and family members who sued Sudan in the USS Cole bombing served the lawsuit in the wrong place, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed, and 42 others were injured in the October 2000 bombing.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act requires the suit to be served in a mailing to the office of the foreign minister in their home country, the Supreme Court said. Plaintiffs in the USS Cole case had served the suit at Sudan’s embassy in the United States.
The United States had supported Sudan’s position.
The Supreme Court interpreted a provision of the law that says lawsuits against foreign governments should be “addressed and dispatched” to “the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state concerned.”
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote the majority opinion. “To ‘dispatch’ a letter to an addressee connotes sending it directly,” he wrote. “The minister’s customary office is the place where he or she generally works, not a far-flung outpost that the minister may at most occasionally visit.”
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.
The case is Republic of Sudan v. Harrison.
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