James Bernard, Stroock Partner
Victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism scored a huge win in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, as a federal judge ruled that the Alavi Foundation and 650 Fifth Avenue Company—a partnership run by Alavi—are liable for turnover of their combined $1 billion real estate portfolio, stemming from the organizations’ status as an “agency or instrumentality” of the Iranian government.
The bench trial was consolidated with a civil forfeiture jury trial brought by the U.S. Government against the Alavi Foundation and 650 Fifth Avenue Co. The jury in that case found that the property at issue is also subject to civil forfeiture.
Alavi, in partnership with an Iran-owned front company, owns 650 Fifth Avenue, a 36-story office tower in the heart of Manhattan. In the bench trial, Judge Katherine B. Forrest found that the defendants benefitted Iran and its state-owned Bank Melli.
A settlement between the government and the judgment creditors calls for the creditors to be compensated from forfeiture proceeds.
Law firm Stroock serves as lead counsel for the private plaintiffs in the suit against the Alavi Foundation and 650 Fifth Avenue Co., representing four groups of individuals who were the victims or family members of victims of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks.
Today’s victory comes after 23 years of legal wrangling. Mr. Bernard notes, “We are gratified to win this victory for the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism, some of whom have waited more than two decades for this day.”
Other law firms who worked on the case include Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, Salon Marrow Dyckman Newman &Broudy LLP, DLA Piper, Wiggins Child Pantazis Fisher Goldfarb PLLC, Mellon & Webster PC, Foote Mielke Chavez & O'Neil LLC, Ramey & Hailey, the Dupont Law Firm LLP, the Fleischman Law Firm and Heideman Nudelman & Kalik PC.
This marks the latest victory for victims and families of victims of Iranian-sponsored terror acts. Last year, Stroock clients received over $40 million in Iranian funds in payment for terror attacks, in a case where the firm’s lawyers served as the lead litigators.