Jeppesen lawsuit (re extraordinary rendition flights)

In May 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing) under the Alien Tort Claims Act in US federal court.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five individuals who alleged that they had been abducted, transferred by aeroplane to secret locations and subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment through the US Government’s “extraordinary rendition” programme.  Beginning in 2001, Jeppesen provided the US Central Intelligence Agency with flight plans and logistical support for the aircraft used in the extraordinary rendition flights.  The plaintiffs allege that Jeppesen aided and abetted the torture and inhuman treatment they suffered and allege Jeppesen’s complicity in the violation of customary international law.  They claim that Jeppesen had knowledge of the purpose of the flights.

 Before Jeppesen responded to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the US Government filed a motion to intervene and to dismiss the case, under the state secrets privilege.  This privilege is asserted by the government to exclude evidence from a case on the basis that the evidence could reveal information that would compromise national security.  The Government argued that the entire subject matter of the lawsuit fell under the state secrets privilege and should be dismissed.  The District Court granted the motion to dismiss in February 2008.  The plaintiffs appealed this dismissal, and in April 2009 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s dismissal and remanded the case for trial.  The Court of Appeals concluded that the subject matter of the lawsuit was not a state secret.  The Court of Appeals reheard the case before an en banc panel of all 11 circuit court judges in December 2009.  In September 2010 the Court of Appeals narrowly ruled that the case should be dismissed because of national security concerns.  The plaintiffs petitioned the US Supreme Court on 7 December 2010 asking it to hear an appeal of the dismissal.  In May 2011 the Supreme Court declined to hear the plaintiffs appeal. 

Supreme Court rejects torture victims' suit, Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 May 2011
US court rejects Binyam Mohamed torture case, Haroon Siddique, Guardian [UK], 9 Sep 2010
Suit by 5 ex-captives of CIA can proceed, appeals panel rules, Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr 2009

US court dismisses CIA flights case, Al Jazeera, 14 Feb 2008

A Bid to Litigate the Legality of U.S.-Sponsored Torture in Federal Court: Will It Succeed?, Anthony J. Sebok, Findlaw’s Writ, 5 Jun 2007

Boeing subsidiary accused of aiding CIA torture flights, Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2007

The C.I.A.'s Travel Agent, Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 30 Oct 2006

- American Civil Liberties Union [plaintiffs’ co-counsel]: Appeals Court Decision Denies Extraordinary Rendition Victims Their Day in Court, 8 Sep 2010
- American Civil Liberties Union: Mohamed v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc [case summary, includes links to certain legal documents]

- [PDF] Mohamed, et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. - Brief of amici curiae International Legal Scholars and Human Rights Organizations in support of the petition for writ of certiorari, 12 Jan 2011
- [PDF] Mohamed, et al. v. United States of America and Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. - Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, 7 Dec 2010
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: [PDF] Mohamed v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., 8 Sep 2010 [order dismissing the case following rehearing en banc]
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: [PDF] Mohamed v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., 27 Apr 2009 [order reversing lower court’s dismissal of the case and remanding the case for trial]

- US District Court for the Northern District of California: [PDF]Mohamed v Jeppesen Dataplan - Order Granting the United States' Motion to Intervene and Granting the United States' Motion to Dismiss With Prejudice, 13 Feb 2008

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

Article
17 May 2011

Supreme Court rejects torture victims' suit

Author: Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid Monday by five former U.S. captives to revive their lawsuit accusing a Bay Area flight-planning company of arranging for the CIA to send them to countries where they were tortured. The men said in their suit that they had been tortured in overseas prisons as terrorism suspects. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the suit dismissed in September, agreeing with the Obama administration that the case could threaten national security. On Monday, the high court denied a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union asking it to intervene on the grounds that the government had misused the "state secrets" privilege to deny justice to torture victims.

Read the full post here

Article
9 November 2010

Right Respect Report: The State Secrets Privilege and the Supreme Court

Author: Shannon Mackenzie Orr, Right Respect

...[A] set of corporate cases [before the US Supreme Court] may have important implications for human rights advocates around the world, General Dynamics Corp. v. United States...and The Boeing Company v. United States...[They] will address...the state secrets privilege...[which] permits the government to block the release of any information in a lawsuit that, if disclosed, would cause harm to national security...Any discussion regarding the scope and limitations of the privilege by the Court...may have drastic consequences for litigants in two particular cases...seeking to contest actions accomplished in pursuit of the [US] War on Terror... [including] Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, a case recently dismissed in its entirety...Mohamed involves five non-citizens who claim that...Jeppesen Dataplan (a Boeing Subsidiary corporation) transported them via aircraft (flights commonly referred to as “torture flights”...) to CIA “black sites” and provided logistical support for their imprisonment and torture...[W]ithout further limitations in scope and directions from Supreme Court on this judicially created doctrine, corporations will now be able to reap the benefits of the government’s privileges of immunity, secrecy and isolation from critical review. [also refers to AT&T, Adobe, Verizon, Hewlett Packard (HP)]

Read the full post here

Article
9 September 2010

US court rejects Binyam Mohamed torture case

Author: Haroon Siddique, Guardian [UK]

A US court has ruled narrowly that Binyam Mohamed, the British resident secretly rendered to Morocco by the CIA…, cannot sue over his alleged torture in overseas prisons because it would compromise national security. Mohamed was the lead plaintiff in a case brought by…five former prisoners who claim they were tortured after being transferred to other countries through the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme. They are fighting for the right to sue Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary accused of arranging flights for the CIA. A US court ruled last year that the case could proceed, but the Obama administration appealed and yesterday the United States court of appeals for the ninth circuit dismissed the case – although the judges were sharply divided by six to five on the decision.

Read the full post here

Article
28 October 2009

Ninth Circuit to Hear Government’s Appeal in Jeppesen Torture Case [USA]

Author: Daphne Eviatar, Washington Independent

The Obama administration just won a round in the lawsuit brought by five alleged torture victims against Jeppesen Dataplan, the Boeing subsidiary that allegedly helped the CIA transport detainees to countries where they’ were interrogated under torture, a practice known as “extraordinary rendition.” The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the victims and reinstated the case last spring, after it was dismissed by the U.S. District Court in Northern California... The panel ruled that there were no grounds to claim that a lawsuit against a government contractor must be dismissed just because the contractor was working with the CIA... The Obama administration...asked the full court of appeals to reconsider the case... Yesterday, the court granted that request.

Read the full post here

Article
1 October 2009

[PDF] Accountability for Private Military Contractors Under the Alien Tort Statute

Author: Jenny S. Lam, California Law Review

Despite heightened attention in recent years to PMC [private military contractor] accountability, commentators have largely ignored PMCs’ potential tort liability under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS,”…)…Ibrahim v. Titan Corp.28 and Saleh v. Titan Corp. provided the first opportunity for a U.S. court to hold PMC interrogators and translators accountable under the ATS for abusing individuals detained by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons…With the increase of ATS litigation against PMCs, this Comment takes a close look at Ibrahim and Saleh, as well as case law suggesting that plaintiffs may indeed be able to hold PMCs accountable under the Alien Tort Statute in certain cases.

Read the full post here

Article
26 July 2009

Secrets of CIA 'ghost flights' to be revealed

Author: Observer [UK]

Confidential documents showing the flight plans of a CIA "ghost plane" allegedly used to transfer a British resident to secret interrogation sites around the world are to be made public. The move comes after a…company accused of involvement in extraordinary rendition dropped its opposition to a case against it being heard in court…Jeppesen UK, a division of the Jeppesen Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing, is alleged to have provided a range of services that allowed planes owned by shell companies operating on behalf of the CIA to fly suspected terrorists to "black sites"…A separate case is being pursued against Jeppesen in the US by the American Civil Liberties Union and Reprieve.

Read the full post here

Article
28 April 2009

Suit by 5 ex-captives of CIA can proceed, appeals panel rules [USA]

Author: Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times

The president cannot avoid trial of a lawsuit brought by five former CIA captives, who allege they were tortured, by proclaiming the entire case a protected state secret, a federal appeals panel ruled today…The lawyers argued that "the very subject matter" of the allegations that U.S. agents kidnapped and tortured terrorism suspects was entitled to the protections of the president's state secrets privilege…The three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the executive privilege claim was excessive and the case could go to trial. The lawsuit by the five alleged torture victims is against Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing Co. [subsidiary] accused of complicity in the men's mistreatment for having flown them to secret CIA interrogation sites after they were nabbed abroad by federal agents.

Read the full post here

Article
28 April 2009

[PDF] Binyam Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan

Author: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

[Full text of decision by Court of Appeals overturning lower court's dismissal of lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen over alleged complicity in "extraordinary rendition" flights by the CIA that plaintiffs say led to their being tortured.]

Read the full post here

Article
10 February 2009

Obama Backs Off a Reversal on Secrets [USA]

Author: John Schwartz, New York Times

In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture, a lawyer for the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration. In the case, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian native, and four other detainees filed suit against a subsidiary of Boeing [Jeppesen] for arranging flights for the Bush administration’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which terrorism suspects were secretly taken to other countries, where they say they were tortured.

Read the full post here

Article
8 February 2009

SJ [San Jose] Aviation Firm Faces Rendition Aid Lawsuit [USA]

Author: KPIX TV CBS 5 [USA]

Five men who claim they were tortured in overseas prisons after being sent there by the CIA will ask a U.S. appeals court in San Francisco on Monday to reinstate their lawsuit against a San Jose aviation company. The lawsuit claims that Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. of San Jose, a subsidiary of Boeing Co., violated international human rights law by knowingly providing flight plans and other logistical support for the CIA plane flights that took them to overseas sites where they were allegedly tortured while being interrogated.

Read the full post here