North Korea Case

Osen LLC represents the families of the victims of a terrorist attack that was perpetrated in May 1972 at Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport) in Israel. The victims of the attack were part of a large group of Puerto Rican pilgrims making a visit to Christian religious sites in the Holy Land.  As the travelers attempted to retrieve their luggage from the baggage carousel and pass through Israeli customs, three Japanese men, who had just disembarked from another recently arriving aircraft, removed automatic weapons and grenades from their luggage and began to fire indiscriminately at people in the airport. Two of the terrorists were killed during the attack, but the third terrorist ran out of ammunition and was tackled by an airline mechanic after he attempted to blow up an airplane on the tarmac with a hand grenade.  When the shooting finally stopped, more than twenty people were dead, sixteen of them American nationals.  Additionally, more than seventy people were wounded.


After the attack, Israeli investigators interviewed the sole surviving terrorist, Kozo Okamoto. Evidence compiled after the attack indicated that Okamoto and the two other terrorists were members of the Japanese Red Army who hoped to galvanize other radicals around the world to engage in revolutionary activity through their example.


In 2008, the Firm (together with co-counsel) filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court of the District of Puerto Rico against the so-called “Democratic People's Republic of Korea,” better known as “North Korea,” for wrongful death, personal injury, and related torts under the Foreign Sovereignty Immunities Act (28 U.S.C. § 1605A) and the Cabinet General Intelligence Bureau, an agency of that nation. The case was brought on behalf of the Estates of Carmelo Calderon-Molina and his wife and his surviving 10 children, and on behalf of Pablo Tirado-Ayala and his wife.


The lawsuit alleged that North Korea provided material support to the Japanese Red Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the two terrorist groups that planned and executed the May 30, 1972, terror attack at Lod Airport. On September 7, 1970, the PFLP’s leader, George Habash, and a delegation of the PFLP operatives arrived in North Korea at the invitation of North Korean officials. The relationship between the PFLP and the Japanese Red Army began as a direct result of this visit when leaders of the two terrorist organizations met.


The case went to trial in December 2009 before United States District Judge Francisco A. Besosa. Based upon the testimony of experts, an eye-witness at the scene following the attack, and members of the victims’ families, as well as the presentation of documentary evidence, the Court issued its Opinion and Order on July 16, 2010, concluding that “the JRA could not have infiltrated Lod Airport nor otherwise perpetrated the Lod Airport Attack without the material logistical, financial, training and ideological support and resources provided by defendants.”


Judge Besosa issued an Amended Judgment against the defendants on August 5, 2010, awarding $53,000,000 to Mr. Calderon-Molina’s heirs and $25,000,000 to Mr. Tirado-Ayala and his wife.  The Court also awarded judgment for punitive damages on behalf of all plaintiffs collectively in the amount of $300,000,000.