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BOIM v. QURANIC LITERACY INSTITUTE

April 23, 2003

STANLEY BOIM, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF DAVID BOIM, DECEASED, AND JOYCE BOIM, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
QURANIC LITERACY INSTITUTE, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arlander Keys, United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Petition for Attorneys' Lees. Plaintiffs ask the Court to enforce Judge George Lindberg's January 10, 2001 Memorandum Opinion and Order, which granted them the attorneys' fees and costs incurred in defending against Defendants' "motions". For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Petition is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND FACTS

Plaintiffs are the parents of Daniel Boim, a Unites States citizen who was murdered in Israel by two Hamas terrorists on May 13, 1996. Plaintiffs describe Hamas as an extremist Palestinian militant organization that is divided into two branches, one political and one military. One of the terrorists responsible for Daniel Boim's death later died in a suicide bombing; the other was tried and convicted of his murder, and is presently incarcerated.

Plaintiffs brought this civil action against these two Hamas terrorists, and against various organizations and individuals with alleged financial and other ties to Hamas. Plaintiffs advanced three theories of liability against the organizational and "other individual" Defendants. First, Plaintiffs asserted that Defendants' acts of giving money to a group, which then sponsored terrorist acts, constituted international terrorism, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.A. §§ 2331, 2333 (West 2002). Next, Plaintiffs alleged that, because these Defendants provided material support to terrorists, which is illegal under 18 U.S.C. § 2339A and 2339B, they are civilly liable under 18 U.S.C. § 2333. Finally, Plaintiffs argued that these Defendants were aiders and abetters of international terrorism.

Defendants filed multiple Motions to Dismiss, as well as Motions for Sanctions against Plaintiffs for filing what Defendants characterized as a legally baseless Complaint. Plaintiffs responded that their theories for civil liability were valid, and that Defendants' Sanctions Motions were so inappropriate as to warrant the imposition of sanctions against Defendants.

On January 10, 2001, Judge Lindberg issued a 37 page Memorandum Opinion and Order, denying Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and Motions for Sanctions. Boim v. Quranic Literacy Institute, 127 F. Supp.2d 1002, 1013-14 (N.D. Ill. 2001) . In his decision, Judge Lindberg rejected Plaintiffs' first theory of liability*fn1, finding that "[c]ontributions to a foreign organization . . . without a further allegation of participation by the contributor, appear too far removed to constitute direct acts of international terrorism." Id. Judge Lindberg also rejected Plaintiffs' second theory of liability, finding that the alleged violations of §§ 2339A and 2339B could not form the basis for civil liability, because they were enacted after Defendants had allegedly funneled contributions to Hamas. Plaintiffs' third theory of liability, however, was sufficient to carry the day. Acknowledging that Plaintiffs' "aider and abetter" theory presented a question of first impression, Judge Lindberg found that liability could exist under such a theory and denied Defendants' Motions to Dismiss on that basis.

In the Conclusion section of the Memorandum Opinion and Order (the "Opinion"), Judge Lindberg denied Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. He also denied Defendants' Rule 11 Motions for Sanctions, and awarded Plaintiffs their fees and costs "related to the preparation of the response to those motions." Id. at 1021. Notably, the Minute Order entering the judgment, which also was issued on January 10, 2001, references only the court's denial of Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and denial of Defendants' Motions for Sanctions. The Minute Order does not mention the court's decision to award Plaintiffs their attorneys' fees and costs.

Judge Lindberg granted Defendants*fn2' Motion for a Certificate of Appealability, and the Seventh Circuit subsequently granted Defendants leave to file an interlocutory appeal, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) (West 2003). Boim v. Quranic Literacy Inst. & Holy Land Found., 291 F.3d 1000 (7th Cir. 2002). On June 5, 2002, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision denying Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and Defendants' Motions for Sanctions. Id. Notably, Defendants did not appeal Judge Lindberg's imposition of fees and costs against them.

On January 8, 2003, Plaintiffs filed a Petition to Enforce Judge Lindberg's Sanctions Award, seeking almost $58,000 in fees and costs.

DISCUSSION

In their Petition, Plaintiffs urge that this Court interpret Judge Lindberg's fee award as granting Plaintiffs the fees and costs that they incurred in opposing not only the Motions for Sanctions, but also the Motions to Dismiss. Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' Petition should be denied, because: 1) neither Plaintiffs' initial request for sanctions, nor Judge Lindberg's award of fees comported with Rule 11's requirements; 2) Defendants and their counsel did not violate Rule 11; and 3) even if sanctions are appropriate, Plaintiffs' request for almost $58,000 is grossly excessive. Plaintiffs reply that Defendants should have raised these arguments on appeal; and that, having failed to do so, Judge Lindberg's fee award is the law of the case and this Court does not have the authority to revisit that determination.

This Court granted Defendants leave to file a Sur-reply, to address Plaintiffs' contention that Defendants' arguments come too late. Defendants assert that Judge Lindberg's fee award was not appealed, because it could not be appealed. Defendants assert that Judge Lindberg's fee award could not be appealed because: 1) it was not set out on a separate document, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 58; 2) it did not specify the amount of the fees to be paid; 3) it did not identify who was responsible for paying the fees; and 4) it did not identify who was to receive the sanction. Therefore, the fee award was not a final and appealable order.

At the heart of the parties' dispute — and perhaps confusion — is the nature of the order granting Plaintiffs their attorneys' fees and costs. Because this Court finds that Judge Lindberg's Order merely awarded Plaintiffs their fees and costs for successfully opposing Defendants' Motion for Sanctions, and did not grant Plaintiffs ...


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