Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

JAFARI, v. ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

April 23, 1982

KIANOOSH JAFARI, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

One former and three present Iranian nationals living in the United States have sued the current government of Iran ("Iran") to recover money owed them for what they claim was wrongful expropriation of their property in Iran. Kianoosh Jafari ("Kianoosh") became a United States citizen March 17, 1981 (after the seizure but before filing this suit), while Javad Jafari ("Javad"), Ashraf Olhajieh Solemaini ("Ashraf") and Nooshin Jafari ("Nooshin") are still aliens.

Iran has moved to dismiss the action for want of subject matter jurisdiction. This Court agrees that (for differing reasons depending on plaintiffs' differing citizenship) it has no jurisdiction over any of the claims, and it therefore grants Iran's motion to dismiss.

Facts*fn1

Kianoosh and Javad own a building in Tehran that houses the Andisheh Now School. In 1966 Iran took the school and thereafter paid about $1,300 a month for rental of the building and the use of the school's name. About November 1979 the current Iranian government stopped making payments. Complaint Count I seeks recovery for the resulting expropriation of property.

Count VI is Nooshin's claim for $100,000 based on a promise by Iran in exchange for Nooshin's "surrender" of her (unspecified) position. Count VII states Kianoosh's claim for a $70,000 pension owed him for his service in the Iranian public schools from 1962 to 1968. Count VIII is Javad's claim for a retirement salary due from Iran, which he claims has not been paid since November 1979.

Claims by Kianoosh

Despite his present United States citizenship, Kianoosh cannot rely on the legislative diversity grant, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, as a source of federal court jurisdiction. True enough, the constitutional diversity grant of Article III extends to "Controversies . . . between a State, the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects." But Sections 1332(a)(2) and (4) make plain that Congress has not extended federal judicial power to its full permissible reach under Article III, for the legislative provisions vest jurisdiction only over civil actions between (emphasis added):

    (a) citizens of a State and citizens or
  subjects of a foreign state;
    (4) a foreign state . . . as plaintiff and
  citizens of a State. . . .

This action by a domestic citizen (Kianoosh) as plaintiff against a foreign state itself (Iran) as defendant fits neither category.

Thus Kianoosh must look instead to the portion of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (the "Act," Pub.L. 94-583, 90 Stat. 2891) embodied in 28 U.S.C. § 1330(a):

  The district courts shall have original
  jurisdiction without regard to amount in
  controversy of any nonjury civil action against a
  foreign state . . . as to any claim for relief in
  personam with respect to which the foreign state
  is not entitled to immunity either under sections
  1605-1607 of this title or under any applicable
  international agreement.

In that respect he seeks to invoke 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(1) and (3). Such reliance seems clearly ill-founded:

    (1) Section 1605(a)(1) withdraws immunity if
  "the foreign state has waived its immunity either
  explicitly or by implication. . . ." Iran has not
  done that, for its August 15, 1955 Treaty of
  Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights
  with the United States does not so provide. Only
  one immunity section (Art. XI, ¶ 4) is contained in
  the Treaty (emphasis added):
    No enterprise of either High Contracting Party,
    including corporations, associations, and
    government agencies and instrumentalities, which
    is publicly owned or controlled shall, if it
    engages in commercial, industrial, shipping or
    other business activities within the territories
    of the other High Contracting Party, claim or
    enjoy, either for itself or for its property,
    immunity therein from taxation, suit, execution
    of judgment or other liability to which privately
    owned and controlled enterprises are subject
    therein.

That waiver of immunity of enterprises of the High Contracting Party should not fairly be read to state or imply a like waiver as to the High Contracting Party (Iran) itself. That would do violence to the language of the Treaty and of Section 1605(a)(1).

(2) Section 1605(a)(3) withdraws immunity if property rights are taken in violation of international law and the seized property ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.