April 21, 2009 16:23 Age: 5 yrs

Bederman Wins U.S. Supreme Court Case 6-3

David J. Bederman

Emory Law Professor David J. Bederman won his U.S. Supreme Court case, Ministry of Defense and Support for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran v. Elahi, by a 6-3 decision Tuesday.

The Court overturned a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Dr. Dariush Elahi, who sought $2.8 million as compensation for the killing of his brother in Paris in 1990. Bederman, the K.H. Gyr Professor in Private International Law, represented the ministry.

“Speaking personally, I’m gratified with the decision and very appreciative of the assistance of everyone in the Emory Law community during the case,” Bederman said. “That includes faculty, colleagues and my student team.”

Bederman was asked to represent the ministry because of his appellate experience and tenure as a legal adviser to the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague. Trusted by both the U.S. and Iranian governments, Bederman received a special license to try the case by the Treasury Department.

His student team includes Lauren Crisman 10L, Michael Eber 09L, Jennifer Fairbairn 09L, Brian Spielman 09L and Robert Carroll 04C 09L, who helped with preparing briefs and with oral arguments.

His colleagues, William W. Buzbee, professor of law; Thomas C. Arthur, L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law, Charles A. Shanor, professor of law; and Robert Schapiro, professor of law, helped strengthen his oral arguments with a moot court in January.

Elahi sought to collect by attaching a judgment obtained by the Iranian Ministry of Defense against California-based Cubic Defense Systems. Iran won the $2.8 million after the California defense contractor did not deliver an arms system after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The Court held that Elahi’s acceptance of a payment of $2.3 million from the U.S. government waived his right to claim the Cubic Judgment under the conditions of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002.

“Rather, we determine that Elahi cannot attach the Cubic Judgment regardless, for the Judgment is ‘at issue in a claim against the United States before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal,” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer for the majority. “The judgment consequently falls within the terms of Elahi’s waiver.”

Read the full Supreme Court decision.

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