FEDERAL JUDGE RULES THAT FIFTH AVENUE TOWER IN NEW YORK CITY CAN BE SEIZED TO SATISFY JUDGMENTS FOR VICTIMS OF IRANIAN TERRORISM INCLUDING THE FAMILIES OF SEPTEMBER 11

Manhattan, New York (June 29, 2017) – Today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled that victims of Iranian terrorism can now seize the assets of the Islamic non-profit, Alavi Foundation and Assa Corporation, known as the 650 Fifth Avenue Partnership.  The assets will be used to satisfy multiple billion dollar judgments granted to the victims of Iran, including the victims of September 11, 2001. The assets include property in several states as well as a high-rise tower on Fifth Ave in New York, with an estimated value over $500 million dollars.

Wiggins Childs Attorneys, Dennis Pantazis and Timothy Fleming, led the Havlish trial team of attorneys that  represent families in a decade long case involving the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  Other members of the team were Rich Hailey, Robert Foote, Mary Beth Ramey, Tom Mellon III, Kevin Noll and Jim McCoy.  The trial took place at the same time as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York presented a forfeiture proceeding to a jury. The jury ruled for the government at the same time.

Pantazis reflected upon the moment by stating that “this case illustrates that in this country, justice will prevail. It may take time but the truth will always be discovered. Tom Mellon, Jr. of Mellon Webster started this case. He was so moved by these families that he dedicated his remaining years to find the answers. Unfortunately he died in 2013.  We, who he inspired, pledged to continue his quest.  Today is a big and an important step in that process as we pursue justice for the victims of 9/11.

“For the attorneys, it has been a long and arduous journey to justice.  But our path has been nothing compared to the sorrow and pain experienced by our clients, the families of the victims, who endure a lifetime of suffering.  We are gratified by this verdict for them, and also for our leader, the late great Tom Mellon, Jr., who worked on this case until the day he died.  Today is a day of triumph of law, the measure of accountability, and justice that Tom Mellon, and our clients, have sought for 15 years” added Timothy Fleming.

The underlying case for the Havlish families was Havlish v. Bin Laden as part of the In Re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001 litigation, filed in the Southern District of New York.  On October 12, 2012, after years of investigation by the Havlish consortium of attorneys, the Court issued an Order of Judgment, finding the Plaintiffs had presented enough evidence that the Islamic Republic of Iran had provided direct material support to al-Qaeda in carrying out the attacks of September 11, 2001. The Court awarded the sum of $6,048,513,805 for economic damages and punitive damages, that up until today, was uncollectable.

Today’s verdict allows the families of the victims of 9/11 to collect on the previous judgment rendered in 2012.

A copy of today’s Order can be found here.

A copy of the underlying Order in Havlish v. Bin Laden can be found here:

The following is a timeline of the events that led up to today’s momentous decision:

  • In Feb. 2002, Tom Mellon Jr as leader of a consortium of lawyers filed a complaint on behalf of Havlish Plaintiffs in the US District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to hold accountable those foreign entities that were responsible for carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The claims were directed toward the Islamic Republic of Iran and 15 of its political subdivisions and agencies.
  • The Havlish action was transferred to the Southern District of NY and consolidated with other pending lawsuits involving September 11.
  • After nearly ten years of investigation by the Havlish consortium of attorneys, the court issued and order of judgment, finding the Plaintiffs had presented enough evidence that the Islamic Republic of Iran had provided direct material support to al-Qaeda in carrying out the attacks of September 11, 2001. Further the court awarded the sum of $6,048,513,805 for economic damages and punitive damages.
  • In Dec. 2008, during the pendency of the Havlish action, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York started forfeiture proceedings by way of a Verified Complaint against the Assa Corporation, Assa Company Limited, and Bank Melli Iran in 650 Fifth Avenue Company including the real property located at 650 Fifth Ave.
  • The Havlish Plaintiffs joined the forfeiture case by filing a Verified Claim of Plaintiffs in Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden placing all parties to the instant litigation on notice of Plaintiffs’ pending claims against the Islamic Republic and 15 of its political subdivisions and agencies. Plaintiffs also asserted a claim to the blocked assets by virtue of the provisions of the FSIA, which permit a lien to be established against the property of any defendant.
  • As a result of Iran’s state sponsorship of terror, the Executive Branch exercised its powers under the International emergency Economic Powers Act that allows the President of the United States (Reagan, Bush and Clinton) to employ sanctions in response to threats.
  • The verified amended complaint in details the vast amount of control that Iran exercised over the Iranian Properties in New York. The centerpiece of the properties is a 36-story commercial property known as the 650 Fifth Ave.Over the course of the years numerous documents illustrate the Iranian government’s control over the Assa Corparation and the Alavi Foundation including, dismissing and adding board members, financial loans to pay taxes.

 

For more information, please see the following articles:

U.S. Can Seize Iran-Owned NYC Tower After Jury Sanction Ruling

Jury finds United States can seize Iran-linked office tower

Jury Rings Up Iran-Linked Charity In $1B Forfeiture Fight

Manhattan Skyscraper Linked to Iran Can Be Seized by U.S., Jury Finds