Abu Ghraib lawsuits against CACI, Titan (now L-3)

Prison cell with bedOn 9 June 2004, a group of 256 Iraqis sued CACI International and Titan Corporation (now L-3 Services, part of L-3 Communications) in US federal court.  The plaintiffs, former prisoners, allege that the companies directed and participated in torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity, sexual assault, as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment at Abu Ghraib prison.  While the plaintiffs were detained at Abu Ghraib they allege that they were raped, repeatedly beaten, detained in isolation, urinated on, prevented from praying and forced to watch family members being tortured.  They further allege that the defendants were negligent in the hiring and supervision of their employees in Iraq.  The US Government had hired CACI and Titan to provide interrogation and translation services at military prisons in Iraq.

On 10 September 2004 the defendant companies filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.  They argued that the subject matter of the claim constitutes a political question (more information about this doctrine here) and therefore can not be decided by the courts.  The defendants also claimed immunity from being sued because of their status as government contractors.  The plaintiffs argued that contractors were not immune because the alleged torture at the prison fell outside the scope of the work they had contracted to perform.  The district judge denied the companies’ motion to dismiss in June 2006.

In November 2007, the district judge granted summary judgment to Titan/L-3.  The court pointed out that unlike CACI employees, Titan employees performed their duties under the direct command and exclusive operational control of the military.  This military control meant that Titan could preempt the plaintiffs’ claims through government contractor immunity.  The court found that CACI employees were subject to a “dual chain of command”—supervised by both CACI and the military—and therefore they were not able to claim government contractor immunity.  The plaintiffs and CACI appealed the verdict.

The Court of Appeals ruled in favour of both defendants on 11 September 2009.  It agreed with the dismissal of the claims against Titan/L-3.  With regard to the claims against CACI, the court stated that although CACI employees were subject to a dual chain of command, this did not detract from the military’s operational control or the degree to which CACI employees were integrated into a military mission.  The court ruled that CACI therefore also had government contractor immunity.  In April 2010 the plaintiffs filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it to hear an appeal in this case.  On 4 October 2010 the Supreme Court asked the US Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the views of the United States.  The Supreme Court announced on 27 June 2011 that it would not hear the appeal in this case.

On 30 June 2008, 4 Iraqis previously detained at Abu Ghraib sued CACI International, CACI Premier Technology and L-3 Services in US federal court.  Similarly to the earlier case against the same defendant companies, the plaintiffs alleged that the companies participated in torture and other illegal conduct.  On 20 August 2008, the court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims against L-3 Services.  On 2 October 2008, the defendants asked the court to dismiss the case.  CACI’s motion to dismiss was denied in part on 18 March 2009.  On 23 March 2009, the defendants appealed the court’s decision.  On 11 May 2012, the federal appeals court rejected defendants’ appeal, ruling that more facts must be developed in the trial courts before it can consider the contractors’ request to dismiss the lawsuits.  In October 2012, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against L-3 reached a confidential, out-of-court settlement with the company (Al-Quraishi v. L-3). 

In the lawsuit against CACI (Al Shimari v. CACI), in March 2013 the court granted CACI's motion to dismiss. The dismissal was without prejudice (meaning the plaintiffs can refile an amended complaint) regarding their claims of conspiracy against CACI's subsidiary -- CACI Premier Technology. On 4 April 2013 the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. On 24 April CACI filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' Alien Tort Claims Act claims on the basis of the US Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v. Shell.  On 26 June 2013, the district court dismissed the case finding that, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Shell, it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case under the Alien Tort Claims Act because the incidents happened outside the United States.  For the balance of the plaintiffs’ claims, the court concluded that CACI was immune from lawsuits “for claims arising from acts related to its contract or performed in connection with military combat operations”.  The plaintiffs have appealed the dismissal.  On 30 June 2014, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's dismissal and ruled that the case had sufficient ties with the US for a US court to hear the plaintiffs' claims, sending the case back to a lower court. The lower court granted CACI's motion to dismiss the case on 18 June 2015, holding that CACI's actions at Abu Ghraib were controlled by the US military and that assessing the plaintiffs' allegations would require the court to question "actual, sensitive judgments made by the military". The court concluded that the case thus presents a "political question" that the judiciary does not have power to decide.  In August 2015, the plaintiffs appealed the decision.  On 21 October 2016, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit.  The court ruled that the “political question” doctrine does not prevent courts from hearing cases concerning illegal acts committed by government contractors, even if they are under control of the military.  On 28 June 2017, a US court ruled that claims for torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; and war crimes can be brought under Alien Tort Statute against private actors. In July 2017, CACI filed a motion to dismiss the case. On 22 September 2017, a district court judge denied CACI's request and ruled that the case could proceed.  In February 2018, a district judge ruled that CACI could not be held directly liable for torture at Abu Ghraib prison because of a lack of sufficient connection between the plaintiffs and the company.  Instead, the judge found that CACI could be held liable for conspiracy to abuse the prisoners, because CACI interrogators gave instructions to military police.  The company argued that the court did not have jurisdiction in light of the US Supreme Court decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank which foreclosed ATS jurisdiction over foreign corporations.  However, the judge disagreed, concluding on 25 June 2018 that the conspiracy claim filed under the Alien Tort Statute could proceed as it raised no separation-of-powers or foreign relations concerns. On 4 May 2018, the judge had authorised CACI’s lawyers to conduct a pre-trial questioning of the Abu Ghraib prison interrogators, requesting that their identities be kept secret. Next court hearing is scheduled to start on 23 April 2019.

In September 2013 a group for Iraqi former detainees filed a new lawsuit in US court alleging CACI had committed war crimes and torture at Abu Ghraib prison.


- "Contractor Must Face Claims Over Abu Ghraib Abuse", Brandi Buchman, Courthouse News, 26 June 2018
- "Abu Ghraib Interrogators May Be Questioned Incognito in Lawsuit", Peter Blumberg, Bloomberg, 9 May 2018
- "Abu Ghraib ex-inmates' lawsuit moves ahead in federal court", Matthew Barakat, Associated Press, 22 Sep 2017
- "Appeals Court Revives Lawsuit by Abu Ghraib Inmates", Matthew Barakat, Associated Press, 21 Oct 2014
- "Abu Ghraib torture lawsuit revived by U.S. appeals court", Jonathan Stempel, Reuters, 30 Jun 2014
- "Iraqis Accuse CACI of War Crimes and Torture", Ryan Abbott, Courthouse News Service, 30 Sep 2013
- "Seeking corporate accountability for crimes at Abu Ghraib", Laura Raymond, Center for Constitutional Rights in Truthout, 29 Apr 2013
- "Judge dismisses core of suit against CACI by Iraqis who say they were tortured at Abu Ghraib", Associated Press, 8 Mar 2013
- "$5M paid to Iraqis over Abu Ghraib", Peter Yost, Associated Press, 8 Jan 2013
- “Appeals court revives Iraqis’ Abu Ghraib suits”, Larry O’Dell, Associated Press, 11 May 2012
- “Abu Ghraib Case Involving Private Contractors Draws Top Court’s Interest”, Greg Stohr, Bloomberg, 4 Oct 2010
- “U.S. Court dismisses Iraqi contractor torture case”, James Vicini, Reuters, 11 Sep 2009
- “CACI Must Face Suit Alleging Torture at Abu Ghraib”, Cary O’Reilly, Bloomberg, 19 Mar 2009
- “Defense contractor claims immunity in Iraq torture”, David Dishneau, Associated Press, 26 Sep 2008
- “Abu Ghraib inmates sue contractors, claim torture” David Dishneau, Associated Press, 1 Jul 2008
- “CACI and Titan Sued Over Iraq Operations”, Renae Merle, Washington Post, 10 Jun 2004

- Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Third Amended Complaint, 19 Jul 2017
- CACI Receives Favorable Court Decision, 26 Jan 2010
- CACI responds to Court’s Decision in Iraq lawsuit, 23 Mar 2009
- Statement Regarding Baseless CCR Lawsuit, 7 May 2008

Center for Constitutional Rights [co-counsel for the plaintiffs]:
- "Private Corporation May be Sued for Role in Abu Ghraib Torture, Judge Rule, Judge Rules", 21 Feb 2018
- "Court Rules Abu Ghraib Survivors' Case of Torture Against Private Military Contractor Can Proceed", 22 Sep 2017
- "Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss Third Amended Complaint", 18 Aug 2017
- "Appellate Court Reinstates Abu Ghraib Torture Lawsuit Against Private Military Contractor", 21 Oct 2016
- "No impunity for corporate torturers at Abu Ghraib, attorneys argue", 6 Feb 2015
- "Abu Ghraib Torture Victims May Sue U.S. Corporation, Appeals Court Rules", 30 Jun 2014
- Saleh et al. v. Titan [case summary, includes links to legal documents]
- Al Shimari v. CACI et al. [case summary, includes links to legal documents]
- Al-Quraishi v. Nakhla & L-3 [case summary, includes links to legal documents]


Court documents:
- US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division: Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, et al., v. CACI Premier Tech, Inc., [opinion on lack of subject matter jurisdiction on conspiracy claims] 25 June 2018
- US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division: Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, et al., v. CACI Premier Tech, Inc., [opinion dismissing CACI's direct liability claims for torture] 21 Feb 2018
- US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division: Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, et al., v. CACI Premier Tech, Inc., 28 Jun 2017 [opinion ruling that the case can proceed]
- US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit: Al Shimari, et al. v. CACI, 21 Oct 2016 [opinion reinsating the case]
- US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia: Al Shimari, et al. v. CACI, 18 Jun 2015 [decision dismissing the case]
- US Court of Appeals for the fourth Circuit: [PDF] Al Shimari, et al. v. CACI, et al. - Opinion, 30 Jun 2014
- District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Alexandria division: [PDF] Al Shimari, et al. v. CACI International, et al., 26 Jun 2013 [decision dismissing the case]
- US Court of Appeals for the Fourt Circuit: [PDF] Al Shimari, et al. v. CACI, et al. - Opinion, 11 May 2012
- US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit: [PDF] Saleh, et al. v. Titan, et al., 11 Sep 2009 [order dismissing case against Titan/L-3 and CACI]
- US District Court for the District of Columbia: [PDF] Saleh, et al. v. Titan, et al. – Memorandum Order, 6 Nov 2007
- US District Court for the District of Columbia: [PDF] Saleh, et al. v. Titan, et al. – Memorandum Order, 29 Jun 2006
- US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Alexandria Division: [PDF] Al Shimari, et al. v. CACI – Memorandum Order, 18 Mar 2009
- US District Court for the District of Maryland: [PDF] Al-Quraishi, et al. v. Nakhla, et al. – Opinion, 29 Jul 2010

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1 July 2008

CACI Rejects Copycat Lawsuits and False Allegations

Author: CACI

CACI International Inc announced today that it is responding vigorously to the malicious and unfounded lawsuits filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). CACI totally rejects and denies all of the allegations and claims in these new legal filings. These latest lawsuits only repeat baseless allegations about CACI that appeared more than four years ago…. Plaintiffs' counsel continues to escalate their rhetoric without any changes in the allegations of misconduct…. None of the new plaintiffs have connected their allegations of abuse to any CACI personnel.

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1 July 2008

Ex-Abu Ghraib detainees sue military contractors for torture

Author: Deirdre Jurand, Jurist [USA]

Four former Abu Ghraib detainees filed lawsuits [links to plaintiffs' materials] Monday against two private US military contractors and three of their employees, alleging torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy. The former detainees said that employees of CACI International and L-3 Communications, which performed interrogation and interpretation work for the US military, violated the Geneva Convention, the Army Field Manual and US law by torturing and conspiring to torture the detainees. [also includes summary of previously filed cases against CACI & L-3 subsidiary Titan]

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30 June 2008

CCR Files Four New Abu Ghraib Torture Lawsuits Targeting Military Contractors in U.S. Courts

Author: Center for Constitutional Rights

Four former Abu Ghraib detainees who were wrongly imprisoned, tortured and later released without charge are suing two U.S. military contractor corporations and three individual contractors, according to four separate lawsuits being filed today by their U.S. legal team. The defendants are CACI International Inc. and CACI Premier Technology, Inc.,…L-3 Services Inc., a…division of L-3 Communications Corp… and three individual contractors… The lawsuits allege that the defendants committed multiple violations of U.S. law, including torture, war crimes, and civil conspiracy. CACI…provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and L-3…provided translators at the prison… According to the lawsuits, the individual contractor defendants allegedly “tortured, and conspired with others to torture.” [also refers to Titan (now part of L-3)]

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6 May 2008

Former Abu Ghraib Prisoner Accuses CACI, L-3 of Torture in Suit

Author: Carlyn Kolker, Bloomberg

A blacksmith who claims he was tortured at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq sued CACI International Inc. and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., which provide services to the U.S. military. Emad Al-Janabi...accused the companies of torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy in the complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles. In November, a federal judge in Washington said CACI must defend a lawsuit by Iraqi prisoners that...accuses the military contractor of assault and battery and wrongful death. In a revised complaint..., lawyers identified 250 former prisoners who were suing CACI. The judge in that case threw out similar claims against L-3. ``CACI totally rejects and denies all of the plaintiffs' allegations and claims,'' CACI spokeswoman Jody Brown said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. ``No CACI employee or former employee has been charged with any misconduct in connection with CACI's interrogation work in Iraq.'' A representative for L3 wasn't immediately available.

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1 February 2008

The War Comes Home

Author: Daphne Eviatar, American Lawyer

...[D]eaths of American civilians working for private companies contracting with the U.S. military is a relatively new phenomenon... In May 2005...[nine] drivers who survived [an April 2004 Baghdad] massacre--and relatives of those who didn’t--sued KBR and its then parent, Halliburton Company... In September 2006,...the federal district court in Houston dismissed the case... [KBR's lawyers] convinced the court that the case raises a political question beyond the competence of the federal judiciary. The plaintiffs have appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. But if the district court’s decision stands, it will mean that the actions of virtually any military contractor working for the federal government could be deemed beyond the authority of the courts--and immune from American law. [also refers to CACI, Blackwater, Titan (now part of L-3 Communications)]

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13 November 2007

Federal Judge Lets Abu Ghraib Suit Against Government Contractor Go Forward

Author: R. Robin McDonald, Fulton County Daily Report [USA]

A federal judge…is allowing a suit…to go forward against a government contractor that supplied interrogators at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. The Nov. 6 decision...places CACI International...in the legal hot seat with regard to the torture of Abu Ghraib detainees. But in the same order, Robertson extended civil immunity to co-defendant Titan Corp. (now L-3 Communications Corp.), saying that Titan's civilian linguists were directly attached to military units in combat operations and "under the exclusive direction and control" of the U.S. military. [also refers to Blackwater]

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6 November 2007

US judge: contractor can face Iraqi torture suit

Author: Reuters

The lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of Iraqi nationals who say they or their relatives had been tortured or mistreated while detained by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq. The plaintiffs sued CACI International...which provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc.'s Titan unit [now L-3 Titan]...which provided interpreters to the U.S. military in Iraq. U.S. District Judge James Robertson dismissed the claims against Titan...But he ruled the lawsuit against CACI can go forward. He said CACI interrogators were subject to a dual chain of command involving company and military officials...CACI argued that it was acting on behalf of the military and cannot be held liable. CACI still may prevail on its arguments at trial, the judge said.

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11 October 2006

The Forgotten Conspiracy - Corporate Torture in Iraq

Author: Ali Eteraz, in CounterPunch

In 2004, a major Philadelphia law firm, the Center For Constitutional Rights, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago School of Law, and a handful of volunteers a group of lawyers in the United States brought a civil suit on behalf of Mr. Saleh and the hundreds of others Iraqi prisoners abused and tortured by American contractors working for CACI and Titan...The 67 page complaint contains detailed descriptions of the torture suffered by some of the other named plaintiffs...Umer Abdul Mutalib was dragged until he went unconscious. Jasim al-Nidawi's private parts were attacked by dogs...The complaint also alleges that one of the private contractors raped a fourteen year old girl, and provides evidence that there may have been a rape room set up in the prison....At the current time the litigation is in the "discovery" stages in Federal Court in the District of Columbia . There are two major hurdles for the lawyers representing the torture victims...

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1 August 2006

Online Action Center - Investigate and prosecute military contractors who torture

Author: Amnesty International USA

The United States government is outsourcing key security and military support functions to private companies, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Government reports have implicated these private contractors in serious human rights violations – including participation by contractors in the torture at Abu Ghraib [Titan (now L-3 Titan, part of L-3 Communications), CACI]- yet only one civilian contractor has faced charges. Tell the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute all cases of human rights violations committed by employees or contractors of private military companies.

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29 November 2004

Companies Running Detention Centers Can Be Sued for Human Rights Violations [USA]

Author: Mary Gallagher, New Jersey Law Journal [USA]

Aliens claiming abuse by guards at a privatized immigration detention center in Elizabeth, N.J., can pursue human rights claims against the company that ran it [Correctional Services], a federal judge ruled on Nov. 10. [also refers to CACI, Titan]

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