Judge lifts stay order
in Marcos lawsuit
A federal judge lifted an order yesterday that had stalled attorneys seeking to recover $40 million in assets of the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, saying he wanted guidance from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on how to proceed.
Attorneys for a class action of thousands of Filipinos who successfully sued the Marcos estate for $2 billion for human rights abuses are trying to have the $40 million released to begin paying the judgment awarded by a Honolulu jury eight years ago.
To date, the class action of 9,539 Filipinos has not received any money, said Sherry Broder, an attorney representing the plaintiffs.
The stay was ordered last fall, after the 9th Circuit said it wanted to examine the Philippine judicial system to determine what action, if any, it was taking with respect to Marcos assets in that country, she said.
Attorneys said yesterday that the Philippine government has taken no action on the case and has instead sought to have itself dismissed from further U.S. court proceedings.
U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real said he was lifting the stay "so the Court of Appeals can help me in terms of what should be done," and force the issue so that compensation proceedings can begin.
"Eventually, something's going to happen in this court," he said. "Why not now?"
The class-action lawsuit was filed against the Marcos estate in 1986, the year he was deposed and fled to Hawaii. He died in 1989.
In 1995 a Honolulu jury awarded plaintiffs $2 billion after finding Marcos responsible for summary executions, disappearances and torture. The judgment has been stalled in court and has grown to about $3.1 billion with interest.
The $40 million is being held in an escrow account because of competing claims of ownership by the Marcos estate, the Philippine government and the human rights victims.
Victims' attorneys had been trying to get the amount released when the stay halted court proceedings, Broder said.
"We're not giving up," she said. "We will never give up."