The Carlson Law Firm, a Killeen-based veteran-owned law firm, has secured an $807 million judgment for direct victims and families of the USS Cole bombing. The bombing occurred in Yemen in 2000 and was a state-sponsored act of terrorism facilitated by Iran. The attack killed 17 American sailors and injured 42 others.
The judgment, awarded by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was granted to 25 sailors injured in the Cole bombing and 33 members of their immediate family. Carlson Law Firm’s Managing Partner Craig Carlson and attorney Philip Koelsch, along with co-counsel Matthew McGill with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and DeJon Lewis with the Law Office of DeJon R. Lewis, represented the plaintiffs under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
The terrorism exception of the act allowed the plaintiffs to pursue monetary damages against a foreign state for providing material support or resources for acts resulting in personal injury or death. On March 16, 2023, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras found that Iran offered material support and resources to Osama Bin Laden and AlQaeda, which facilitated the planning and execution of the USS Cole attack. Accordingly, Iran is liable for the Cole Plaintiffs’ damages under the FSIA.
The Carlson Law Firm’s Managing Partner Craig Carlson stated that the plaintiffs have suffered from PTSD, substance abuse, and significant anxiety due to the attack. The judgment includes $128.75 million in pain and suffering damages for directly injured plaintiffs, $73 million in solatium damages for families, and $605.25 million in punitive damages.
“This has been a long and complicated process for these families, and our fight for Cole families is not done,” Carlson said. “Our clients have been patient while we’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that no stones were left unturned in our pursuit of the just resolution they deserve. Because of the heinous act of state-sponsored terrorism, they’ve lost close friends, the ability to enjoy life, and much more than most of us can ever imagine.”
Carlson Law Firm is committed to advocating for the veteran community in cases like Camp Lejeune and 3M earplugs. The firm hopes that this $807 million judgment shows the country’s veterans and their families that no matter who they’re up against, they are a law firm with the resources, determination, and knowledge to seek justice on their behalf.