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North Korea hasn't responded to $500M judgment in Otto Warmbier wrongful death case

Family seeks order to collect money
Posted at 2:20 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 14:20:18-04

CINCINNATI — The parents of Otto Warmbier are asking a federal judge to allow them to seize North Korean assets as compensation for his death after the country failed to respond to a judgment in their wrongful death lawsuit.

A U.S. district court judge in Washington ruled in December and ordered North Korea to pay about $500 million to the family and Otto's estate for the 22-year-old's death, including compensatory and punitive damages.

Warmbier, a Cincinnati native and Wyoming High School graduate, was arrested by North Korean authorities during a visit to the country in early 2016 and detained for more than a year. By the time he was returned to the U.S. in June 2017, doctors said Warmbier was in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness." He died just days later.

Otto's parents, Cindy and Fred Warmbier, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against North Korea last April, alleging the Kim Jong Un's "criminal" regime brutally tortured and murdered Otto.

North Korea never responded to the lawsuit and sent no representative to a hearing in December. After the judge ruled in favor of the Warmbiers, a North Korean official signed for a package from the court containing the ruling, according to court records. However, they simply put the opened package in a new envelope and sent it back.

"North Korea has made no effort to satisfy the judgment or made any indication that it intends to do so," the Warmbiers' attorney wrote in a new court filing Tuesday.

The family is asking Judge Beryl Howell to issue an order allowing them to collect the money "by any means" allowed under federal or state law.