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Letelier v. Republic of Chile

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

November 5, 1980

Civ. A. No. 78-1477



This action is before the Court for a final determination relevant to the attempt of plaintiffs Isabel, Christian, Jose, Francisco, and Juan Pablo Letelier, and Michael Maggio, respectively the widow, sons, and personal representative of Orlando Letelier, and Michael Moffitt and Murray and Hilda Karpen, respectively the widower-personal representative and the parents of Ronni Karpen Moffitt, to obtain judgments by default against defendants Republic of Chile, Juan Manuel Contreras Sepulveda, Pedro Espinoza Bravo, Armando Fernandez Larios, Michael Vernon Townley, Alvin Ross Diaz, Guillermo Novo Sampol, and Ignacio Novo Sampol, for their alleged culpability for the bombing deaths of former Chilean ambassador Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in September 1976 in Washington, D.C. After careful consideration of the entire record of this case, including the testimony and [**2]  documentary evidence presented at the June 20, 1980 hearing regarding several of the pending applications for judgments by default, it is apparent plaintiffs have established their right to relief as against all but one of these defendants and thus are entitled to judgments by default in the amounts hereinafter set forth.

Plaintiffs, either citizens of the states of Maryland or New Jersey, or of the District of Columbia, or of the Republic of Chile, brought this suit asserting various tortious causes of action 1 and seeking recompense, pursuant to those statutory enactments governing the survival of actions, D.C.Code § 12-101 (Supp. VII 1980), and wrongful death, id. § 16-2701 (1973), from those they alleged were involved in the deaths of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, both of whom died as a result of the detonation of an explosive device under the driver's seat of Orlando Letelier's automobile as it rounded Sheridan Circle, N.W., in the District of Columbia on September 21, 1976. The named defendants to the action are either a foreign state, or citizens of a foreign state, or citizens of a state other than the states of Maryland or New Jersey or of the District of Columbia.  [**3]  

Filed on August 23, 1978, the first amended complaint in this action was served by Deputy United States Marshals upon Alvin Ross Diaz (Ross), Guillermo Novo Sampol (Guillermo Novo), and Ignacio Novo Sampol (Ignacio Novo) on August 23, 1978, and on defendant Michael Vernon Townley two days later. Service was attempted upon defendants Juan Manuel  [*261]  Contreras Sepulveda (Contreras), Pedro Espinoza Bravo (Espinoza),  [**4]  and Armando Fernandez Larios (Fernandez) in Chile by registered mail, return receipt requested, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(i)(1)(D). On September 7, 1978, the return receipts were filed with the Court upon which it was indicated that copies of the first amended complaint were received on behalf of defendants Contreras, Espinoza, and Fernandez on August 29, 1978. Upon their failure to answer, defaults were taken against defendants Townley, Ross, and Ignacio Novo on September 20, 1978, while a default was entered against defendant Guillermo Novo on October 24, 1978.

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502 F. Supp. 259 *; 1980 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14629 **

Isabel Morel de LETELIER et al., Plaintiffs, v. The REPUBLIC OF CHILE et al., Defendants


assassination, default, bomb, mission, detonation, explosive, jointly, arrived, morning, pain and suffering, judgments, telephone, expenses, damages, trip