March 26 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday tossed a $314.7 million judgment against Sudan in favor of U.S. sailors injured in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, saying the Americans lodged the lawsuit incorrectly.
The high court voted 8-1 against the plaintiffs in the suit, saying they should have sent a copy of the lawsuit to the Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs instead of the Sudan Embassy in Washington, D.C.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 requires notifications of lawsuits between countries to go to foreign affairs departments. The only justice who dissented, Justice Clarence Thomas, said he believed the plaintiffs did comply with the law by notifying the embassy.
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said foreign ministers must be notified of lawsuits where they regularly work, "not a far flung outpost that the minister may at most occasionally visit."
The 2000 suicide bombing on the USS Cole, a Navy guided-missile destroyer, in Yemen left 17 U.S. sailors dead and 39 injured. The lawsuit on behalf of the injured accused Sudan of providing support to the al-Qaida militant group, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Supreme Court said its judgment doesn't prevent a second lawsuit from going forward, but that the plaintiffs should send the court documents directly to the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs next time.
A separate lawsuit by the families of the 17 dead sailors also must be refiled directly to the Sudanese government. An appeals court tossed that $34 million judgment because the families sent the paperwork to the Sudanese Embassy.
"There are circumstances in which the rule of law demands adherence to strict requirements even when the equities of a particular case may seem to point in the opposite direction," Alito said.