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Federal judge awards $91 million to family of former hostage

[JURIST] A US district judge has awarded $91 million for emotional distress to the family of Joseph Cicippio, who was held hostage in Lebanon by the paramilitary group Hezbollah [BBC News backgrounder] from 1986 to 1991. US District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. [official profile] issued a default judgment under a 1996 amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text] that allows Americans to sue countries that the State Department lists as sponsors of terrorism [State Department list]. The award will likely be issued from the US Treasury as in previous cases, and the US will have the right to pursue the funds from frozen assets of Iran, the country that finances and controls Hezbollah. Others have successfully sued under the law, including former AP correspondent Terry Anderson, who was held for nearly seven years, and Cicippio and his wife, who were part of a joint $68 million judgment with two other hostages in 1998. An appeals court ruled in 2001 that first-kin can sue under the law. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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