PETERSON, et al v. ISLAMIC REPUBLIC, et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION denying plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration #503 . Signed by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth on May 22, 2013. (lcrcl5)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
DEBORAH D. PETERSON, et al.,
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, et al.
Civil No. 01-2094 (RCL)
The Court recently denied plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions against garnishee HSBC Bank
USA, N.A. (“HBUS”). Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 01-cv-2094, 2013 WL 1460188
(D.D.C. Apr. 11, 2013). Plaintiffs now move for reconsideration of that decision pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Pls.’ Mot., ECF No. 503. The Court denies the motion.
Plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions argued that garnishee HBUS failed to properly disclose
three blocked electronic fund transfers (“EFTs”) in response to a 2008 interrogatory. Peterson,
2013 WL 1460188, at *1. These three EFTs were disclosed by HBUS in 2012. Relying on its
earlier opinion in Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 885 F. Supp. 2d 429, 438 (D.D.C.
2012), the Court found that Iran “had no property interest in these blocked EFTs,” and therefore
“HBUS’s 2008 [interrogatory response] statements that it was not ‘indebted to’ defendants and
did not possess any of their ‘goods, chattels, or credits’ were legally accurate, notwithstanding
The Court presumes familiarity with the background of the case, and only provides those facts essential to the
disposition of the present motion.
their failure to mention these blocked EFTs.” Peterson, 2013 WL 1460188, at *3. Because
HBUS’s statements were legally accurate, the Court held, they could not be sanctionable. Id.
Rule 60 provides, in pertinent part, that “the court may relieve a party . . . from a final
judgment, order, or proceeding for . . . (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic),
misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party . . . [or] (6) any other reason that justifies
relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(3) & (6). To obtain relief under (b)(3), the moving party must
show (1) that the other party engaged in fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct; and (2) that this
misconduct prevented the moving party from fully and fairly presenting his case. Summers v.
Howard Univ., 374 F.3d 1188, 1193 (D.C. Cir. 2004). To obtain relief under (b)(6), the moving
party must demonstrate “extraordinary circumstances.” Marino v. Drug Enforcement Admin.,
685 F.3d 1076, 1079 (D.C. Cir. 2012).
A. Plaintiffs Do Not Merit Relief Under Rule 60(b)(3)
Plaintiffs purport to show that HBUS engaged in “fraud, misrepresentation, or
misconduct” which “substantially interfered” with their ability to fully and fairly present their
case. Pls.’ Reply 3. They point to three categories of allegedly fraudulent conduct: (1) HBUS’s
failure in 2008 to disclose the three EFTs, Pls.’ Mot. 9–10; Pls.’ Reply 3–4; (2) HBUS’s ongoing
failure to accurately disclose its Iran-related assets, as demonstrated by alleged inconsistencies
between those EFTs listed in HBUS’s 2012 disclosures and those listed in a 2008 Office of
Foreign Asset Control (“OFAC”) disclosure, Pls.’ Mot. 10 (citing Pl.’s Mot, Ex. C, under seal);
Pls.’ Reply 5–6; and (3) HBUS’s mischaracterization of its legal procedures and compliance
department, Pls.’ Mot. 4–9; Pls.’ Reply 3–4.
The first category of allegedly fraudulent conduct—HBUS’s alleged 2008 disclosure
failure—fails to support plaintiffs’ motion because it is precisely the subject of the very opinion
and order that plaintiffs are challenging. The Court already found that HBUS’s responses to the
2008 interrogatories did not support a motion for sanctions. Peterson, 2013 WL 1460188, at *3.
Plaintiffs will not obtain a different result merely by invoking the same conduct again in a
motion for reconsideration.
The second category of allegedly fraudulent conduct—HBUS’s alleged ongoing
disclosure failure—does not appear to be fraudulent.
Plaintiffs point to a 2008 OFAC
memorandum, listing four undated blocked transactions between January 1, 2007 and June 30,
2008 held by HSBC, and complain that this memo lists “a different number of Iranian entities,
none of which were those named by HBUS” in its 2012 disclosure. Pls.’ Mot. 10.
explains that the first two of the 2008 OFAC-listed transactions actually correspond to two of the
three transactions listed in the 2012 disclosure; the amounts are slightly different because of the
change in value between 2008 and 2012, and the names are different because the 2008 OFAC
disclosure lists the originator of the transaction, while the 2012 HBUS disclosure lists the
beneficiary. HBUS’s Opp’n 8 n.4, ECF No. 508-3. HBUS further explains that the third
transaction listed in the 2008 OFAC disclosure was not included in the HBUS 2012 disclosure
because it was outside the time-frame of that disclosure. HBUS’s Opp’n 8. Finally, HBUS
explains that the fourth transaction listed in the 2008 OFAC disclosure was not included in the
HBUS 2012 disclosure because it had been released to the remitter in 2010 and was not held by
HBUS as of 2012. HBUS’s Opp’n 8.
Even if these discrepancies were evidence of fraud, plaintiffs would not be entitled to
relief under (b)(3) because they failed to demonstrate how such “fraud” prevented them from
fully and fairly making their case. See Summers, 374 F.3d at 1193. That plaintiffs appear to
have possessed the allegedly inconsistent OFAC disclosure since 2008—well before they filed
the sanctions motion at issue here—makes it even more doubtful that such “fraud” imposed any
burden on their ability to make their case.
The third category of allegedly fraudulent conduct—HBUS’s alleged mischaracterization
of its legal procedures and compliance department—fails to support plaintiffs’ motion because it
is irrelevant to the case at hand. The Court’s denial of the motion for sanctions rested only on
the legal accuracy of the challenged interrogatory responses—the adequacy of HBUS’s
compliance office has no bearing on that determination. There is no reason why such “fraud”
would be any burden on plaintiffs’ ability to make their case.
B. Plaintiffs Do Not Merit Relief Under Rule 60(b)(6)
Plaintiffs attack the Court’s April opinion by raising the same legal arguments the Court
Pls.’ Mot. 11–23. Such arguments do not amount to the kind of “extraordinary
circumstances” that could merit relief under Rule 60(b)(6). See Marino, 685 F.3d at 1079.
Plaintiffs also complain that the “legal analysis upon which this Court rested its April 11,
2013 [sic] is far from settled” because the Heiser opinion upon which the Court relied is pending
on appeal, and because several district judges in the Southern District of New York have reached
a different conclusion on the same legal issue. Pls.’ Reply 11. Plaintiffs fail to note that the
Court explicitly recognized both of these facts in the challenged opinion. Peterson, 2013 WL
1460188, at *3 nn.3–4. Since the Court already considered these facts, they do not amount to the
kind of “extraordinary circumstances” that would merit relief under Rule 60(b)(6). See Marino,
685 F.3d at 1079.
Plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration is denied. An order shall issue with this opinion.
Signed by Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge, on May 22, 2013.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?