Case Against Corporations Under the Alien Tort Statute Is Allowed To Proceed

On November 1, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Virginia allowed a lawsuit by four Iraqis to proceed against two U.S. corporations for their alleged direct participation in torture and other illegal conduct at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

The case, Al Shimari v. CACI, which was commenced in June 2008, has had a complex history.[1]

In March 2009, the district court granted the corporations’ motion to dismiss the claims under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute (ATS), but denied the motion to dismiss the other claims under state common law for assault, battery, sexual assault, infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring and supervision. (Al Shimari v. CACI, 657 F. Supp. 2d 700 (E.D. Va. 2009).)

In September 2011 a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 2-1, reversed the district court’s denial of the motion to dismiss the state law claims on the ground that the corporate defendants were immune.

However, in May 2012, that court, en banc, dismissed the defendants’ appeal on the procedural ground that the appellate court had no jurisdiction over the premature appeal. The appellate court, therefore, remanded the case to the district court. (Al Shimari v. CACI Int’l, Inc., 679 F.3d 205 (4th Cir. 2012) (en banc).)

On October 11, 2012, the plaintiffs moved the district court to reverse its March 2009 decision and reinstate the ATS claims. (Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Support of Their Motion Seeking Reinstatement of the Alien Tort Statute Claims, Al Shimari v. CACI, No.1:08CV827 (E.D. Va. Oct. 11, 2012).)

On November 1st the court did just that with an order to follow. (Civil Minutes, Al Shimari v. CACI, No.1:08CV827 (E.D. Va. Nov. 1, 2012).)

This plaintiffs’ victory may be short-lived because the U.S. Supreme Court has a case under advisement on the issue of whether corporations may be held liable under the ATS.

[1] See generally Center for Const’l Rights, Al Shimari v. CACI.

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

2 thoughts on “Case Against Corporations Under the Alien Tort Statute Is Allowed To Proceed”

  1. Comment: District Court Dismisses Complaint Against Two Corporations

    In Al Shirmari v. CACI (Case No. 1:08-cv-00827), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on March 8, 2013, dismissed the second amended complaint against two corporate defendants. The order says they were dismissed for the reasons stated in open court, but there is not yet any opinion explaining this decision.

    On March 19, 2013, the same court dismissed certain Virginia state-law claims because they were barred by the state’s two-year statute of limitations and the state’s non-recognition of cross-jurisdictional tolling of the statute of limitations.

    As of March 28, 2013, however, the docket sheets indicate the case is still pending, but the author does not know exactly what claims still remain.

    As explained in the above post, this is a case of four Iraqi plaintiffs suing those two U.S. corporations for alleged direct participation in torture and other illegal conduct at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. As noted in the above post, the district court on November 1, 2012, had reversed an earlier order dismissing the ATS claims and reinstated them.

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