Opinion analysis: Court rules for Sudan in dispute over service in USS Cole lawsuit

A lawsuit by victims of the bombing of the USS Cole received a setback today at the Supreme Court. The victims are trying to hold the government of Sudan responsible for providing support to the al Qaeda bombers who killed 17 sailors and injured 42 more in 2000, but the justices ruled that the plaintiffs failed to give the Sudanese government proper notice of their lawsuit because they mailed their complaint to the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C., instead of sending it to the Sudanese government in Sudan. The ruling means that the plaintiffs will now have to go back to the drawing board and try to serve the Sudanese government again. Under a federal law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, foreign governments generally cannot be sued in U.S. courts. But the FSIA contains a variety of exceptions, including one for countries – like Sudan – that have been designated as state sponsors of terrorism. When an exception does apply, the FSIA instructs plaintiffs on…

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