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Levin v. The Bank of New York Mellon

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 27, 2017

JEREMY LEVIN and LUCILLE LEVIN, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, et al., Defendants. THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, et al. Third-Party Plaintiffs,
v.
STEVEN M. GREENBAUM, et al., Third-Party Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          J. PAUL OETKEN, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs Jeremy Levin and Dr. Lucille Levin (“Plaintiffs”) are judgment creditors of the Islamic Republic of Iran (“Iran”). In 2009, they filed this suit seeking turnover of Iranian assets within the United States in an effort to enforce an unsatisfied judgment against Iran. Plaintiffs now move for leave to file a supplemental complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Proecudre Rule 15(d). For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part.

         I. Background

         The Court presumes familiarity with the factual and procedural history of this case, as discussed in its two prior Opinions and Orders issued on March 4, 2011, and September 23, 2013. See Levin v. Bank of N.Y. (Levin I), No. 09 Civ 5900, 2011 WL 812032, at *1-4 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 4, 2011) (Patterson, J.); Levin v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon (Levin II), No. 09 Civ 5900, 2013 WL 5312502, at *1‒2 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 23, 2013) (Patterson, J.).

         Plaintiffs hold an unsatisfied final judgment of $28, 807, 719 against Judgment-Debtor Iran, arising out of the 1984 kidnapping of Jeremy Levin in Beirut, Lebanaon. (Dkt. No. 1099-1 (“Supp. Compl.”) ¶ 1.) Levin's abductors were terrorists who were trained, supported, aided, funded, and directed by Iran.[1] Id.

         Plaintiffs filed the original Complaint in this action in 2009 (the “2009 Complaint”), seeking turnover of all assets within the jurisdiction of the United States in which Iran has a direct or indirect interest. (Dkt. No. 1099 at 2; Dkt. No. 70.) The 2009 Complaint alleged that Defendant-Garnishee J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“JPMCB”), along with other New York banks, possessed “assets blocked by the U.S. government due to the fact that Iran has an interest in them either directly or indirectly (‘Iranian Blocked Assets').” (Dkt. No. 70 ¶ 3).[2]

         Although Plaintiffs, along with other judgment creditors, have obtained turnover of certain Iranian assets from Defendant-Garnishee JPMCB (see, e.g., Dkt. No. 1089), Plaintiffs' judgment has not been fully satisfied. (Dkt. No. 1100 ¶ 4). On November 29, 2016, Plaintiffs served interrogatories on JPMCB. (Supp. Compl. ¶ 4.) JPMCB's responses, which were served on January 12, 2017, revealed the existence of two additional, previously undisclosed Iranian Blocked Assets: (1) “a deposit account” under the name of Lebanese businessman Kassim Tajideen (“Tajideen Account”); and (2) an account “hold[ing] the proceeds of a wire transfer, also known as an electronic funds transfer (‘EFT'), that was blocked by JPMCB under . . . 31 C.F.R. Parts 560, 561 and 594 [‘Iranian Sanctions']” (“Saderat Account”). (Id.; Dkt. No. 1101 at 1).

         Plaintiffs move for leave to file a supplemental complaint seeking turnover of the Tajideen Account and the Saderat Account for collection and partial satisfaction of their judgment against Iran pursuant to § 201(a) of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (“TRIA”)[3] and §§ 1610(f)(1)(a) and (g)(1) of the Foreign Soverign Immunities Act (“FSIA”).[4](Dkt. No. 1099 at 4; Supp. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9.)

         II. Discussion

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(d), a party may “move to serve a supplemental pleading and the district court may grant such a motion, in the exercise of its discretion, upon reasonable notice and upon such terms as may be just.” Quaratino v. Tiffany & Co., 71 F.3d 58, 66 (2d Cir. 1995). “Absent undue delay, bad faith, dilatory tactics, undue prejudice to the party to be served with the proposed pleading, or futility, the motion should be freely granted.” Id. (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).

         With respect to the Tajideen Account, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs should be permitted to supplement their original complaint. Upon discovering the existence of the Tajideen Account on June 12, 2017, Plaintiffs acted promptly by delivering writs of execution for immediate service and levy on Defendant JPMCB on June 13, 2017. (Dkt. No. 1100 ¶ 7.) There is no evidence of “undue delay, bad faith, [or] dilatory tactics.” Quaratino, 71 F.3d at 66. Nor is there any evidence of undue prejudice or futility. See Id. Most important, JPMCB does not oppose Plaintiffs' motion as it relates to the Tajideen Account. (Dkt. No. 1101 at 2.)

         With respect to the Saderat Account, however, the Court concludes that supplementation would be futile. In order to “execute a judgment on the blocked assets of a terrorist party, or its agency or instrumentality, to satisfy a judgment against the terrorist party, ” a plaintiff must establish that

(1) the plaintiff obtained a judgment against the terrorist party; (2) the judgment is for a claim based on an act of terrorism; (3) the assets are “blocked assets” within the meaning of TRIA; and (4) execution is sought only to the extent of the plaintiff's outstanding judgment for compensatory damages.

Doe v. Ejercito De Liberacion Nacional, No. 15 Civ. 8652, 2017 WL 591193, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 14, 2017). Here, JPMCB argues that supplementation would be futile because the Saderat Account does not qualify as a “blocked asset” under TRIA, as it is not ...


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