US military contractor claims immunity in seeking Abu Ghraib lawsuit dismissal

[JURIST] Lawyers for private US military contractor CACI International [corporate website] filed a motion Thursday to dismiss a torture lawsuit against the company based on a claim of immunity. In July, four former detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive] filed lawsuits [CCR materials; JURIST report] against CACI and L-3 Communications [corporate website], which performed interrogation and interpretation work for the US military, alleging that they violated the Geneva Convention, the Army Field Manual [texts] and US law by torturing and conspiring to torture the detainees. They further alleged that CACI and L-3 negligently failed to prevent the torture. In a motion to stay discovery [text, PDF] filed last week in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website], CACI's lawyers argued that the company is protected by derivative absolute immunity [Mangold v. Analytic Services, Inc. text] because its work was ordered by the government:

[T]he CACI Defendants will assert a defense of absolute official immunity in a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint in this action. That motion will be filed shortly after the filing of the present motion. As a matter of binding Circuit precedent, this Court may not permit Plaintiffs to take discovery prior to the Court’s resolution of the CACI Defendants’ motion to dismiss based on derivative absolute official immunity.
A hearing on the motions is scheduled for Friday. AP has more.

The actions brought in July followed a similar suit [JURIST report] filed in May by an ex-detainee who alleged that the contractors engaged in torture and conspiracy at the prison. Last year, US District Judge James Robertson refused to dismiss [order, PDF; JURIST report] a class action lawsuit [CCR materials] against CACI in which an amended complaint [text, PDF; JURIST report] alleged that CACI was responsible for the torture of more than 250 former detainees held in Iraqi prisons. Earlier this month, lawyers for CACI argued [brief, PDF] that judges for the US District Court for the District of Columbia should grant CACI summary judgment in that case because the company agents acted under exclusive military control.

 

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