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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jewish Group Seeks Default Judgment Against Russia

A Jewish organization asked a federal judge for a default judgment against Russia today, following the country's exit from a long-running lawsuit over a priceless religious library.

Lawyers for Chabad-Lubavitch, one of the world’s largest sects of ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews, filed a motion today at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accusing Russia of flaunting U.S. law by ducking out of the suit. On June 26, Russia filed a notice informing the court that it would no longer participate in the litigation, which it called “incompatible with its rights as a sovereign nation.”

Russia, represented by a team from Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, had already litigated the case through a motion to dismiss and an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which ruled that all of Chabad’s claims could go forward.

“[Russia’s] refusal to accept the decision of the Court of Appeals and their disobedience of this Court’s orders and contempt for this Court’s processes warrant the entry of a default,” Chabad’s filing states.

Chabad’s lawyers — Nathan Lewin and Alyza Lewin of Lewin & Lewin, Marshall Grossman and Seth Gerber of Bingham McCutchen, and William Bradford Reynolds of Howrey — said they would seek a default shortly after Russia abandoned the suit. Even, if they convince Judge Royce Lamberth to rule in their favor, collecting on the judgment could be difficult. It unclear they will be able to seek Russian assets in the U.S., or if they will have to seek compensation in a Russian court.

See the National Law Journal’s last story on the suit.

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