$622M in Damages for the Families of 11 Victims

value life

So what is a reasonable number of dollars to award in a wrongful death case or for a victim’s pain and suffering? The simple answer: millions of dollars. A federal judge in Washington on October 15, 2014 awarded $622 million to the families (estates) of 11 victims of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, resolving the last remaining claims against the governments of Iran and Sudan for their role in the attacks. The case is Owens v. Republic of Sudan, No. 01-2244 (JDB) (Oct. 15, 2014). U.S. District Judge John Bates, a George W. Bush appointee, carefully analyzed precedent and concluded that the families of the eleven deceased victims of the bombings should receive a total of $622 million.

Judge Bate’s carefully analyzed opinion lays bare the complete absurdity of capping non-economic [pain and suffering] damages and loss of consortium damages to $750,000 in Tennessee pursuant to the TN GOP’s power grab (and terribly misnamed) “Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011.”

Here’s what the Court ruled in Owens:

“Plaintiffs who suffer serious physical injuries tend to receive a $5 million award; plaintiffs who suffer relatively more serious or numerous injuries may receive $7 million (or more); and plaintiffs whose injuries are relatively less serious or who only suffer emotional injuries may receive something closer to $1.5 million. See Valore, 700 F. Supp. 2d at 84–85; O’Brien, 853 F. Supp. 2d at 47.”

“The commonly accepted framework for solatium [consortium] damages . . . used in Peterson, where spouses of deceased victims receive $8 million, parents of deceased victims receive $5 million, and siblings of deceased victims receive $2.5 million. 515 F. Supp. 2d at 52. And where the victim does not die, but instead only suffers injury, the solatium awards are halved: Spouses receive $4 million, parents receive $2.5 million, and siblings receive $1.25 million. Id. Moreover, this Court has previously held that children of deceased and injured victims should receive awards akin to those given to parents (i.e., $5 million where the victim died, and $2.5 million where the victim suffered injury). See, e.g., Mwila, 2014 WL 1284978, at *5 (“[C]hildren who lose parents are likely to suffer as much as parents who lose children.”).”

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