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US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear 1998 Embassy Bombings Case

FILE - A woman prays for the victims at the memorial site in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 7, 2013 during events marking the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in the city.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a case about billions of dollars awarded by a court to victims of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

More than 200 people died in the attacks and more than 1,000 were injured. The justices are starting their summer break, but said they would hear the case after they resume hearing arguments in the fall.

The case the justices agreed to hear involves a group of individuals who were victims of the attacks and their family members. They sued Sudan, arguing that it caused the bombings by providing material support to al-Qaeda.

A trial court awarded approximately $10.2 billion in damages including approximately $4.3 billion in punitive damages. But an appeals court overturned the punitive damages award. The Supreme Court will determine if that decision was correct.

A law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act generally says that foreign countries are immune from civil lawsuits in federal and state courts in the United States. But there's an exception when a country is designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” as Sudan was. The Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether the law allows punitive damages for events that happened before the most recent revision to the act in 2008.