Al Shimari v. CACI et al.

At a Glance

Current Status 

In June 2014, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed jurisdiction over Alien Tort Statute claims post-Kiobel and remanded the case to the district court, which dismissed the case on political question grounds on June 18, 2015. CCR intends to appeal the decision.

Date Filed: 

June 30, 2008

Co-Counsel 

Shereef Akeel of Akeel & Valentine, PLC
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
Jeena Shah
John Zwerling

Client 

Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari
Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid
Salah Hasan Nusaif Al-Ejaili
Asa'ad Hamza Hanfoosh Zuba'e

Case Description 

Al Shimari v. CACI is a federal lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of four Iraqi torture victims against U.S.-based government contractor CACI International Inc., and CACI Premier Technology, Inc. The lawsuit asserts that CACI directed and participated in illegal conduct, including torture, at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where it was hired by the U.S. to provide interrogation services. CCR's four clients were all held at the “hard site” in Abu Ghraib prison in 2003-2004. This case is part of CCR’s effort to bring accountability for torture and other serious violations of international law arising out of the so-called “war on terror” and invasion of Iraq.

The lawsuit was originally brought against L-3 Services Incorporated (formerly Titan Corporation), CACI International Inc., and Timothy Dugan, a former employee of CACI.  CACI and L-3 Services were the U.S. government contractors responsible for interrogation and translation services, respectively, at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq. L-3 Services and Timothy Dugan were dismissed as defendants in the case in 2008, and the litigation has proceeded against CACI. 

The case, brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and federal question jurisdiction, brings claims arising from violations of U.S. and international law, including torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; war crimes; assault and battery; sexual assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent hiring and supervision; and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Through this action, the clients seek compensatory and punitive damages.

Our clients are Iraqis civilians who were ultimately released without ever being charged with a crime. They all continue to suffer from physical and mental injuries caused by the torture and other abuse they endured. Here’s a brief description of the heinous acts to which they were subjected at the hands of CACI employees and certain government co-conspirators:

Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari was detained from 2003 until 2008, during which he was held at the Abu Ghraib “hard site” for about two months. While he was there, CACI and its co-conspirators tortured him in various ways: he was subjected to electric shocks, deprived of food, threatened by dogs, and kept naked while forced to engage in physical activities to the point of exhaustion.  

Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid was detained from 2003 until 2005, during which he was imprisoned at the Abu Ghraib “hard site” for about three months. While he was detained there, CACI and its co-conspirators tortured Mr. Rashid by placing him in stress positions for extended periods of time; humiliating him; depriving him of oxygen, food, and water; shooting him in the head with a taser gun; and by beating him so severely that he suffered broken limbs and vision loss. Mr. Rashid was forcibly subjected to sexual acts by a female as he was cuffed and shackled to cell bars. He was also forced to witness the rape of a female prisoner. 

Asa’ad Hamza Hanfoosh Zuba’e was imprisoned at Abu Ghraib from 2003 until 2004. CACI and its co-conspirators tortured him while he was detained there by subjecting him to extremely hot and cold water, beating his genitals with a stick, and detaining him in a solitary cell in conditions of sensory deprivation for almost a full year.  

Salah Hasan Nusaif Al-Ejaili, an Al Jazeera journalist, was imprisoned at the Abu Ghraib “hard site” for approximately four months. While he was there, CACI and its co-conspirators stripped him and kept him naked, threatened him with dogs, deprived him of food, beat him, and kept him in a solitary cell in conditions of sensory deprivation. See his interviews with Democracy Now! and BBC Witness.

For more information about accountability for torture by private military contractors, see CCR's factsheet.

Case Timeline

June 18, 2015

District court dismisses case on political question grounds

June 18, 2015

District court dismisses case on political question grounds

Judge Lee dismisses the case, concluding that CACI’s actions were controlled by the U.S. military and that assessing torture and war crimes claims would require an impermissible review of the military’s judgment, and thus the issues in the case present a “political question” that the judiciary cannot appropriately answer.

November 2014 - February 2015

Briefing and hearing on political question doctrine

November 2014 - February 2015

Briefing and hearing on political question doctrine

On November 21, 2014, CACI files a motion to dismiss the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, asserting that CCR's claims raise political questions the judiciary cannot answer. CCR files our opposition to the motion to dismiss on December 19, 2014, arguing that CACI was not under plenary military control, that hearing claims that private contractor CACI acted unlawfully does not implicate sensitive military decisions, and that there are judicially manageable standards in place, including to assess CACI’s conduct against the War Crimes and Anti-Torture statutes. CACI files its reply on January 2, 2015. Oral argument is heard on February 6, 2015. 

November 2014

Briefing on elements of Alien Tort Statute claims

November 2014

Briefing on elements of Alien Tort Statute claims

CCR files a brief on behalf of our clients setting out the elements of our claims of war crimes, torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under the Alien Tort Statute on November 5, 2014.  CACI files their brief on November 14, 2014.

June 30, 2014

Fourth Circuit vacates district court’s judgment and reinstates Iraqi torture victims' case

June 30, 2014

Fourth Circuit vacates district court’s judgment and reinstates Iraqi torture victims' case

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacates the district court's judgment and remands all of CCR's claims for further proceedings. The court holds that the case satisfies the Kiobel “touch and concern” test, finding that torture and other human rights violations committed by a U.S. corporation at a U.S.-controlled prison in a conspiracy with U.S. soldiers can be heard in a U.S. court under the ATS.

March 18, 2014

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral argument

March 18, 2014

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral argument

Oral argument is heard before Judges Keenan, Floyd, and Cogburn in Richmond, Virginia.

October - December 2013

Appellate briefing

October - December 2013

Appellate briefing

CCR files our opening appeal brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 29, 2013. CCR argues that our claims, including war crimes and torture, brought against a U.S. corporation that U.S. military investigators had determined in 2004 conspired with court-martialed U.S. soldiers in “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” of detainees at Abu Ghraib in U.S.-occupied Iraq “touch and concern” the United States. Six amicus briefs are filed in support of CCR's clients on November 5, 2013 by retired military officers; past United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Torture and current Rapporteur Juan Méndez; a group of human rights survivors who successfully sought redress in U.S. courts under the ATS, including CCR client Dolly Filártiga, plaintiff in the first modern use of the ATS to obtain accountability for human rights abuses; a group of civil procedure law professors; international law and civil procedure scholars; and historians of international law. All argue that Al Shimari is not only permitted under Kiobel, but also that international law requires the U.S. to provide a forum for seeking accountability and redress for the torture and other serious human rights violations at Abu Ghraib. CACI files its opening appeal brief on December 2, 2013. CCR files our reply brief on December 16, 2013.

August 2013

CCR's clients are ordered to pay $13,731.61 in costs to CACI

August 2013

CCR's clients are ordered to pay $13,731.61 in costs to CACI

CACI files a Bill of Costs, seeking payment of $15,580 from the plaintiffs, on August 2, 2013.  CCR files our opposition to CACI's Bill of Costs on August 12, 2013. CACI files their reply on August 19, 2013. On August 30, 2013, CACI's motion for Bill of Costs is granted, with CCR's clients ordered to pay $13,731.61.

June 26, 2013

Judge Lee dismisses CCR's ATS and common law claims, thereby dismissing case

June 26, 2013

Judge Lee dismisses CCR's ATS and common law claims, thereby dismissing case

The court hears CACI’s motion to dismiss the Alien Tort Statute claims in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Co., as well as to dismiss three of the plaintiffs' common law claims, on May 10, 2013. Judge Lee dismisses the case on June 26, 2013, finding that the Alien Tort Statute cannot apply to violations occurring outside the United States, and that the remaining common law claims are barred because Iraqi law applies.  The district court narrowly interprets the “presumption against extraterritorial application” of the ATS set forth in Kiobel to foreclose claims arising in Iraq, disregarding the fact that CACI is a U.S.-based corporation, it is alleged to have conspired with U.S. soldiers to commit war crimes that were punished in U.S. courts martials, and the torture and war crimes occurred at a time when the United States exercised total jurisdiction and control over Abu Ghraib prison.  The Supreme Court held in Kiobel that the presumption could be displaced in cases that “touch and concern” the United States “with sufficient force.”

April - May 2013

Briefing on motion to dismiss common law claims

April - May 2013

Briefing on motion to dismiss common law claims

CACI files a motion to dismiss CCR's common law claims on April 29, 2013. CCR files our opposition on May 6, 2013. CACI files its reply on May 8, 2013.

April - May 2013

Briefing on reconsideration of Alien Tort Statute claims post-Kiobel

April - May 2013

Briefing on reconsideration of Alien Tort Statute claims post-Kiobel

CACI files a motion to dismiss CCR's ATS claims of war crimes, torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment on the basis of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum on April 24, 2013. CCR files our opposition on May 3, 2013, and CACI files its reply on May 8, 2013.

April - May 2013

Briefing on motion to dismiss conspiracy claims

April - May 2013

Briefing on motion to dismiss conspiracy claims

CACI files its motion to dismiss the conspiracy claims on April 15, 2013. CCR files our opposition on May 3, 2013. CACI files its reply on May 8, 2013.

April - May 2013

Briefing and argument regarding CACI's attempt to dismiss Baghdad plaintiffs as sanction for their inability to appear in U.S. for depositions

April - May 2013

Briefing and argument regarding CACI's attempt to dismiss Baghdad plaintiffs as sanction for their inability to appear in U.S. for depositions

The court hears CACI's motion to dismiss the three Baghdad-based plaintiffs on the grounds that are unable to appear in the U.S. for their depositions. The men had been granted visas to travel to the U.S. in February, but were prevented for unknown reasons from boarding their flight to the U.S. in March. CACI files its motion on April 5, 2013. The court hears argument at a motion hearing on April 12, 2013. CCR files our opposition on May 6, 2013. CACI files a supplemental memo in support of the motion for sanctions on May 22, 2013, and CCR files our opposition on May 24, 2013. The motion remains pending when Judge Lee issues his June 26, 2013 decision, and as CACI did not seek plaintiffs' depositions when discovery reopened in 2014, the issue is moot.

April 4, 2013

CCR files third amended complaint

April 4, 2013

CCR files third amended complaint

March 19, 2013

Judge Lee vacates 2008 order denying partial summary judgment (statute of limitations)

March 19, 2013

Judge Lee vacates 2008 order denying partial summary judgment (statute of limitations)

On March 19, 2013, Judge Lee grants CACI's motion for reconsideration of the 2008 order denying partial summary judgment, vacating the 2008 order and dismissing three of CCR's common law claims in the second amended complaint without prejudice.

February 2013

CACI compels plaintiff depositions

February 2013

CACI compels plaintiff depositions

CACI files a motion to compel plaintiff depositions on February 8, 2013. CCR files our opposition on February 13, 2013. Following a motion hearing, the court grants CACI’s motion to compel on February 14, 2013, requiring the plaintiffs to appear for depositions within thirty days.

February 1, 2013

CCR discloses expert reports

February 1, 2013

CCR discloses expert reports

CCR discloses expert reports on issues including what acts constitute torture; the duty of care owed to detainees under international humanitarian law; the significance of the physical, mental and emotional injuries alleged from the perspective of Islamic religious and legal teachings; and theories of social-psychological behavior in a prison setting such as Abu Ghraib.

January - March 2013

Briefing and decision on dismissing defendant CACI International and dismissing conspiracy claims

January - March 2013

Briefing and decision on dismissing defendant CACI International and dismissing conspiracy claims

CACI Premier Technology and CACI International file motions to dismiss the conspiracy claims in CCR's second amended complaint, as well as defendant CACI International, on January 14, 2013. CCR files our opposition to the motions on January 28 and 29, 2013, respectively. Judge Lee grants the defendants' motion to dismiss CACI International, Inc. and grants without prejudice CACI Premier Technology's motion to dismiss conspiracy claims on March 8, 2013.

December 26, 2012

CCR files second amended complaint on behalf of clients

December 26, 2012

CCR files second amended complaint on behalf of clients

November 2012 - February 2013

Briefing and hearing on CACI's motion for reconsideration of district court's 2008 order denying partial summary judgment (statute of limitations)

November 2012 - February 2013

Briefing and hearing on CACI's motion for reconsideration of district court's 2008 order denying partial summary judgment (statute of limitations)

On November 9, 2012, CACI files a motion for reconsideration of the court's order denying partial summary judgment based on statute of limitations. CCR files our opposition on November 20, 2012. CACI files their reply on November 26, 2012. A hearing is held before Judge Lee on November 30, 2012. CACI files a memorandum regarding choice of law for the statute of limitations on January 17, 2013, to which CCR files our opposition on January 31, and CACI files their reply on February 6, 2013.

November 1, 2012

Judge Lee reinstates Alien Tort Statute claims

November 1, 2012

Judge Lee reinstates Alien Tort Statute claims

At the conclusion of the motion hearing, Judge Lee reinstates all ATS claims of war crimes, torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

October 2012

CCR seeks reinstatement of Alien Tort Statute claims

October 2012

CCR seeks reinstatement of Alien Tort Statute claims

CCR files a motion on behlaf of our clients for reinstatement of the ATS claims on October 11, 2012, arguing that war crimes, torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment are all universally recognized violations of international law and that corporations can be held liable under the ATS. CACI files their opposition to the motion on October 25, 2012, and CCR files our reply on October 30, 2012.

May 11, 2012

En banc panel dismisses CACI's appeal and remands case to district court

May 11, 2012

En banc panel dismisses CACI's appeal and remands case to district court

The en banc panel, in an 11-3 decision, issues an order dismissing CACI's appeal for lack of jurisdiction and remanding the case to the district court in order to allow fact-finding to proceed.

November 2011 - January 2012

Rehearing en banc briefing and argument

November 2011 - January 2012

Rehearing en banc briefing and argument

On November 15, 2011, the Fourth Circuit invites the United States to file an amicus brief in the case before December 30, 2011. CACI files its en banc opening brief on November 29, 2011. CCR files our opposition brief on December 19, 2011, arguing first that the Court of Appeals lacks jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine, and then that there is no “law of war” immunity for torture, that CACI is not entitled to derivative absolute immunity, that state law cannot be wholly displaced through preemption or “battlefield immunity,” and that the political question doctrine does not bar the action. On December 20, 2011, retired Army military officers, professors of Civil Procedure and Federal Courts, and international human rights organizations and experts file amicus briefs in support of CCR's clients on jurisdiction and preemption issues. CACI files its reply brief on December 27, 2011. The U.S. files its amicus brief on January 14, 2012, in which it agrees with CCR's argument that the Court of Appeals lacks jurisdiction and submits that the district court should reconsider the preemption argument under the “combatant activities exception”, and that, inter alia, there should be no preemption for acts of torture. CACI files its response to the U.S. amicus on January 20, 2012, and CCR responds on January 24, 2012. The Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc, hears argument on January 27, 2012.

November 22, 2011

District court denies CACI's motion for 1292(b) certification of 2009 order denying its motion to dismiss

November 22, 2011

District court denies CACI's motion for 1292(b) certification of 2009 order denying its motion to dismiss

In November 2011, just as briefing is beginning for the en banc rehearing in the Fourth Circuit, CACI files a motion for 1292(b) certification of the district court's 2009 order denying its motion to dismiss. CCR files our opposition to the motion on November 16, 2011, and CACI files its reply on the same date. The district court denies the motion on November 22, 2011, affirming CCR's argument that it does not have jurisdiction over the case as it is currently before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

November 8, 2011

Fourth Circuit grants CCR's petition for rehearing en banc

November 8, 2011

Fourth Circuit grants CCR's petition for rehearing en banc

CCR files a petition for rehearing en banc on October 5, 2011. On October 6, 2011, the Fourth Circuit requests that CACI respond, and CACI files their response on October 17, 2011. A majority of Fourth Circuit judges in active service and not disqualified grant the petition for rehearing en banc.

September 21, 2011

In 2-1 decision, Fourth Circuit reverses district court and orders case be dismissed

September 21, 2011

In 2-1 decision, Fourth Circuit reverses district court and orders case be dismissed

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the Fourth Circuit reverses the district court and orders the case be dismissed. Judges Paul V. Niemeyer and Dennis W. Shedd find the court has jurisdiction and dismiss the case under a theory of “battlefield preemption.” Judge Robert B. King dissents, finding that the court lacks jurisdiction over the appeal, and that the state law claims cannot be preempted.

March 11, 2011

Court issues stay pending Supreme Court decision regarding cert petition filed in Saleh v. Titan

March 11, 2011

Court issues stay pending Supreme Court decision regarding cert petition filed in Saleh v. Titan

The Fourth Circuit orders that the case be held in abeyance pending decision on the petition for certiorari filed in Saleh v Titan with the Supreme Court.

April 5 - October 26, 2010

Appellate briefing and argument

April 5 - October 26, 2010

Appellate briefing and argument

CACI files their opening brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 5, 2010. In May 2010, private military contractor KBR is granted leave to file an amicus brief. CCR files our response on June 14, 2010. CACI files their reply on July 1, 2010. Judges Paul Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd, and Robert B. King of the Fourth Circuit hear argument on October 26, 2010.

March 23, 2009 - February 23, 2010

CACI files notice of appeal; CCR seeks to have appeal dismissed and files cross-appeal; briefing schedule set

March 23, 2009 - February 23, 2010

CACI files notice of appeal; CCR seeks to have appeal dismissed and files cross-appeal; briefing schedule set

CACI files a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on March 23, 2009. CCR files a motion on behalf of our clients to dismiss CACI's appeal on April 28, 2009. The court suspends briefing pending resolution of the motion to dismiss on April 30, 2009. The court defers a ruling on the motion to dismiss pending assignment to a panel for review on the merits on November 16, 2009, and issues a briefing order. CCR files our notice of cross-appeal on November 30, 2009. The court issues a revised appellate briefing schedule, a briefing order on the cross-appeal, and an order consolidating the cases on December 2, 2009.  CACI files a motion to dismiss CCR's cross-appeal on December 7, 2009. On February 23, 2010, the court grants CACI's motion to dismiss CCR's cross-appeal and issues a revised scheduling order.

March 18, 2009

District court denies CACI's motion to dismiss, in part

March 18, 2009

District court denies CACI's motion to dismiss, in part

Judge Lee denies the CACI's motion to dismiss, in part. In denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Lee rejects CACI’s argument that the case presents a nonjusticiable political question; that government contractor interrogators are entitled to derivative absolute immunity; that the claims are preempted through a government contractor defense claimed under the “combatant activities exception” to the Federal Tort Claims Act; and that the claims of respondent superior and conspiracy liability are properly pled. Judge Lee grants CACI’s motion in regard to the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), finding the ATS does not provide a sufficient basis to exercise jurisdiction for war crimes, torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against government contractor civilian interrogators.

January 21, 2009

Court grants CCR's motion for leave to rebut CACI's factual misrepresentations on motion to dismiss

January 21, 2009

Court grants CCR's motion for leave to rebut CACI's factual misrepresentations on motion to dismiss

December 2008 - January 2009

Briefing and order regarding Senate Armed Services Committee Report as supplemental authority

December 2008 - January 2009

Briefing and order regarding Senate Armed Services Committee Report as supplemental authority

CACI files a motion on December 19, 2008 for leave to file a supplemental memorandum based on the Senate Armed Services Committee Report in support of their motion to dismiss. CCR files our response on January 2, 2009, and CACI files their reply on January 8, 2009. Judge Lee issues an order granting CACI's motion on January 14, 2009.

November 25, 2008

Judge Lee denies CACI’s motion for partial summary judgment based on statute of limitations

November 25, 2008

Judge Lee denies CACI’s motion for partial summary judgment based on statute of limitations

October - November 2008
Briefing and hearing on motion to dismiss amended complaint
October - November 2008
Briefing and hearing on motion to dismiss amended complaint

CACI files a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on October 2, 2008. CCR files our opposition on October 16, 2008. CACI files their reply on October 22, 2008. A hearing is held before District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee on October 24, 2008. CCR files a motion on October 27, 2008 for leave to file a memorandum rebutting CACI’s factual misrepresentations, to which CACI responds on October 29, 2008. CCR files our reply on behalf of our clients on November 3, 2008.

October 2008

Briefing on motion for partial summary judgment based on statute of limitations

October 2008

Briefing on motion for partial summary judgment based on statute of limitations

CACI files a motion for partial summary judgment on October 10, 2008 based on the statute of limitations. CCR files our opposition on October 21, 2008. CACI files their reply on October 27, 2008.

September 15, 2008

CCR files amended complaint on behalf of clients

September 15, 2008

CCR files amended complaint on behalf of clients

CCR files an amended complaint against CACI International, Inc. and CACI Premier Technology, Inc.

August - September 2008

CCR moves to dismiss claims against L-3 Services and Timothy Dugan

August - September 2008

CCR moves to dismiss claims against L-3 Services and Timothy Dugan

CCR moves to dismiss claims against L-3 Services and Timothy Dugan on August 20, 2008, and the claims are dismissed without prejudice on September 12, 2008.

August 7, 2008

Case transferred to Eastern District of Virginia

August 7, 2008

Case transferred to Eastern District of Virginia

The court grants defendants' motion to change venue. The case is transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia and assigned to Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.

June 30, 2008

CCR files complaint on behalf of four Iraqi torture victims

June 30, 2008

CCR files complaint on behalf of four Iraqi torture victims

CCR files a complaint on behalf of Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid, Salah Hasan Nusaif Al-Ejaili, and Asa'ad Hamza Hanfoosh Zuba'e against Timothy Dugan, CACI International, Inc., CACI Premier Technology, Inc., and L-3 Services, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for Ohio, Southern District, Eastern Division.