AuthorErnesto Sanchez
e FSIA precludes awards of punitive damages against foreign states or their political sub-
divisions, save for cases of (proven) state-sponsored terrorism. Agencies or instrumentalities
of foreign states or their political subdivisions, and individual agents committing acts of state-
sponsored terrorism, however, are liable for punitive damages in any event.1
28 U.S.C. § 1606 mandates:
As to any claim for relief with respect to which a foreign state is not entitled to immunity
under section 1605 or 1607 of this chapter, the foreign state shall be liable in the same
manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances . . . but a
foreign state except for an agency or instrumentality thereof shall not be liable for punitive dam-
ages; if, however, in any case wherein death was caused, the law of the place where the action
or omission occurred provides, or has been construed to provide, for damages only punitive in
nature, the foreign state shall be liable for actual or compensatory damages measured by the pecu-
niary injuries resulting from such death which were incurred by the persons for whose bene t the
action was brought.2
e matter of damages in an FSIA action encompasses two areas—(1) damages for claims other
than those arising from state-sponsored terrorism and (2) damages for state-sponsored terror-
ism under an extensively enumerated framework.
(1) Damages Under Federal And State Law In General
e actual award of damages in an FSIA case will usually stem from the substantive laws gov-
erning the particular causes of action at bar. To that eect, the choice of law issues described
earlier still apply absent specic direction by contract, statute, or international agreement.3 If an
action implicates a U.S. state’s law, that state’s law of damages will also govern.4 Likewise, courts
have turned to federal common law to govern the award of damages in cases where plaintis
2. Id. (emphasis added).
3. See supra Ch. 26, § 26.3(1).
4. See F irst National City Bank v. Banco Para El Comercio Exterior de Cuba (“Bancec”), 462 U.S. 611, 622 n.11
(1983) (“[W]here state law provides a rule of liabilit y governing private individuals, the FSIA requires the application
of that rule to foreign states in like circumstances.”).
ForSovImmunAct_book.indb 313 4/11/13 3:32 PM

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