Abtan, et al. v. Prince, et al. and Albazzaz, et al. v. Prince, et al.  Historic Case

At a Glance

Current Status 

Cases were settled on January 6, 2010

Date Filed: 

October 11, 2007

Co-Counsel 

Susan Burke, William O’Neill, Katherine Hawkins of Burke O’Neil LLC

Client 

Talib Mutlaq Deewan, Abdulwahab Abdulqadir Al-Qalamchi, Mahdi Abdulkhudhir Abbass, Sami Hawas Hamood, Fereed Waleed Hassoon, Bara’a Sa’adoon Ismael, Sameer Hoobi Jabbar, Abdulameer Rahmeen Jehan, Mohammed Hassan Mohammed, Haider Ahmed Rabe’a,  Hassan Jabir Salman, Affrah Sattar Ghafil, Yassameen Abdulkhudir Salih, Wissam Raheem Fulaih, Alah Majeed Sghair Zaidi, Zuhair Najim Abbood Al-Mamouri, Ali Khalaf Salman Mansour, Sarhan Thiab Abdulmounem, Adel Jabir Shamma, Jassim Mohammed Hashim, Haider Sa’adoon Lateef, and Sa’adoon Lateef Majeed; families of Ali Hussamaldeen Albazzaz, Kadhum Kayiz Aziz, and Sa’ad Raheem Jarallah, Himoud Saed Abtan, Usama Fadhil Abbass, Oday Ismail Ibraheem, Ali Khaleel, Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq, Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, and Ghaniyah Hassan Ali

Case Description 

Abtan, et al. v. Prince, et al. and Albazzaz, et al. v. Prince, et al. are cases, later consolidated, filed in the Eastern District of Virginia against private military contractor Blackwater (later known as “Xe Services”) and its founder, Erik Prince, on behalf of Iraqis wounded and families of Iraqis killed by shooters from Blackwater in Baghdad. Albazzaz brought claims for the September 9, 2007, killings in Al Watahba Square; Abtan brought claims for injuries and killings in the September 16, 2007, shootings in Nisoor Square. These cases are part of CCR’s effort to bring accountability for serious violations of international law arising out of the so-called “war on terror” and corporate human rights violations.

On September 9, 2007, Blackwater shooters opened fire on a crowd of Iraqi civilians in Al Watahba Square, killing Ali Hussamaldeen Albazzaz, Kadhum Kayiz Aziz, and Sa’ad Raheem Jarallah. Mr. Albazzaz, the father of a newborn baby, was standing outside his rug store at the time that he was killed. Mr. Aziz was guarding a government building. Mr. Jarallah, a 53-year-old school teacher, was killed while visiting Baghdad for work. Numerous other civilians were injured. The families of these men are plaintiffs in Albazzaz.

Abtan was initially filed on behalf of Talib Mutlaq Deewan, an Iraqi civilian who was injured when Blackwater personnel opened fire on Iraqi civilians on Nisoor Square on September 16, 2007, and the families of three men killed in the shooting—Himoud Saed Abtan, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem. Subsequent amendments to the complaint joined the families of additional Iraqi civilians who were killed, and twenty-one additional Iraqis who were injured later joined as plaintiffs in the case.

Both cases allege that Erik Prince, Blackwater, and affiliated companies violated state, federal, and international law. Claims include war crimes under the federal Alien Tort Statute (ATS), one count under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training, and supervision, under state law. In particular, the complaints allege that the Blackwater “created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company’s financial interests at the expense of innocent human life,” and routinely deployed heavily-armed “shooters” in the streets of Baghdad with the knowledge that some of them were chemically influenced by steroids or other judgment-altering substances. Both cases seek compensatory damages for death and physical, mental, and economic injuries, damages for intentional and willful destruction of evidence, as well as punitive damages.

Case Timeline

January 6, 2010
Plaintiffs conclude settlement of cases
January 6, 2010
Plaintiffs conclude settlement of cases
The court issues an order dismissing the cases with prejudice due to settlement of all claims.
October 28, 2009

Plaintiffs file second amended complaint in Abtan and first amended complaint in Albazzaz

October 28, 2009

Plaintiffs file second amended complaint in Abtan and first amended complaint in Albazzaz

Abtan plaintiffs file a second amended complaint and Albazzaz plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint pursuant to the court’s October 21, 2009 order.

October 21, 2009

Court denies consolidated motion to dismiss in part

October 21, 2009

Court denies consolidated motion to dismiss in part

The district court issues an order on the defendants' motion to dismiss. The motion is denied in part, granted in part, and deferred in part.
October 2009
Briefing on motion to lift stay of discovery
October 2009
Briefing on motion to lift stay of discovery
On October 9, 2009, plaintiffs file a motion to lift the stay of discovery. A hearing is held on the motion on October 16, 2009; the motion to lift the stay is denied.
September 8, 2009

Order that parties shall caption all pleadings “In re: Xe Services Alien Tort Litigation”

September 8, 2009

Order that parties shall caption all pleadings “In re: Xe Services Alien Tort Litigation”

August 28, 2009 – September 21, 2009

Briefing on the impact of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17

August 28, 2009 – September 21, 2009

Briefing on the impact of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17

On August 28, 2009, Judge Ellis orders supplemental briefing on the impact of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17 on Iraqi courts' ability to hear the case’s nonfederal claims. On September 4, 2009, defendants and plaintiffs file memoranda on CPA 17. On September 16, 2009, plaintiffs file a reply to the defendants’ supplemental briefing, and defendants file a response to plaintiffs’ reply on September 21, 2009.

August 12, 2009 – October 8, 2009

Briefing on defendants’ motion to substitute the United States in place of all defendants pursuant to the Westfall Act

August 12, 2009 – October 8, 2009

Briefing on defendants’ motion to substitute the United States in place of all defendants pursuant to the Westfall Act

On August 12, 2009, defendants file a motion to substitute the United States in place of all defendants pursuant to the Westfall Act. On August 19, 2009, the district court orders the United States and plaintiffs to file responsive pleadings to the motion by October 8, 2009. (On September 8, 2009, the court orders that the parties shall caption all pleadings “In re: Xe Services Alien Tort Litigation.”)  On October 8, 2009, plaintiffs and the United States Government file separate memoranda in opposition to defendants’ motion to substitute the United States as party in place of all defendants.

July 22, 2009 – August 7, 2009

Briefing, hearing and decision on defendants’ motion seeking to bar all extrajudicial statements regarding the litigation

July 22, 2009 – August 7, 2009

Briefing, hearing and decision on defendants’ motion seeking to bar all extrajudicial statements regarding the litigation

On July 22, 2009, defendants file a motion seeking to enjoin the parties and their counsel from making extrajudicial statements regarding the litigation. On July 31, 2009, plaintiffs' file their opposition to the defendants' motion, with exhibits. There is a hearing on the defendants’ motion to enjoin the parties from making any extrajudicial statements on August 7, 2009, and Judge Ellis denies the defendants’ motion.

July 20, 2009 - August 28, 2009

Briefing and hearing on defendants’ consolidated motion to dismiss and related motion

July 20, 2009 - August 28, 2009

Briefing and hearing on defendants’ consolidated motion to dismiss and related motion

On July 20, 2009, defendants file a consent motion to seal the Appendix to the Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. On July 24, 2009, a consolidated motion to dismiss is filed by the defendants, to which plaintiffs' file a consolidated opposition (with exhibits) on August 3, 2009.  On August 17, 2009, defendants file a reply.  On August 10, 2009, defendants file a motion to strike exhibits G and H (Declarations of John Does 1 and 2) to plaintiffs' opposition.  On August 21, 2009, plaintiffs file their opposition to defendants’ motion to strike exhibits G and H.  On  August 25, 2009 defendants file a reply, to which  plaintiffs file a response on August 27, 2009. On August 28, 2009, a hearing is held on the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

July 17, 2009

Abtan and Albazzaz consolidated for all pre-trial purposes

July 17, 2009

Abtan and Albazzaz consolidated for all pre-trial purposes

Judge T.S. Ellis consolidate Abtan with the four other cases against Prince and the Blackwater companies pending in the Eastern District of Virginia, including Albazzaz, for all pretrial purposes, including discovery and dispositive motions.

June 2, 2009

Abtan and Albazzaz plaintiffs file new complaints in the Eastern District of Virginia

June 2, 2009

Abtan and Albazzaz plaintiffs file new complaints in the Eastern District of Virginia

On June 2, 2009, the Abtan plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss the cases in the District of Columbia and file a new complaint on behalf of 30 plaintiffs – 22 injured and 8 killed – against Blackwater et al. in the Eastern District of Virginia, “Abtan v. Prince et al.” The case is assigned to Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. Abtan plaintiffs subsequently file the first amended complaint, adding a RICO count, on July 1, 2009. On June 2, 2009, Albazzaz plaintiffs also voluntarily dismiss the case in the District of Columbia and file a new complaint against Blackwater et al. in the Eastern District of Virginia, on behalf of the estates of three men killed by Blackwater. The case, Albazzaz, et al. v. Prince,  is assigned to Judge T. S. Ellis, III.

April 27, 2009

Court issues decision granting plaintiffs' leave to seek venue discovery

April 27, 2009

Court issues decision granting plaintiffs' leave to seek venue discovery

The district court grants Albazzaz and Abtan plaintiffs' leave to seek venue discovery.

March 31, 2009

Abtan: Court issues order staying plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended complaint and defendants' motion to dismiss

March 31, 2009

Abtan: Court issues order staying plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended complaint and defendants' motion to dismiss

The court issues an order staying both the defendants' motion to dismiss and plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended complaint, pending possible supplemental briefing related to venue discovery or transfer.

April 2008

Briefing on defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of venue

April 2008

Briefing on defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of venue

On April 8, 2008, defendants file a motion to dismiss both the second amended complaint in Abtan and the amended complaint in Albazzaz for lack of venue, to which the plaintiffs file their opposition on April 22, 2008.

April 28, 2008 – May 19, 2008

Abtan: Briefing on plaintiffs’ motion to file a third amended complaint

April 28, 2008 – May 19, 2008

Abtan: Briefing on plaintiffs’ motion to file a third amended complaint

On April 28, 2008, Abtan plaintiffs file a motion to file a third amended complaint in order to include a spoliation claim. Defendants file their opposition to the motion to amend the complaint on May 7, 2008, to which the plaintiffs file a reply on May 19, 2008.

March 28, 2008

Abtan: Second amended complaint filed

March 28, 2008

Abtan: Second amended complaint filed

A second amended complaint is filed in Abtan, with additional plaintiffs.

March 28, 2008

Albazzaz: An amended complaint is filed

March 28, 2008

Albazzaz: An amended complaint is filed

First Amended Complaint is filed in Albazzaz.

March 28, 2008

Court orders consolidation of Abtan and Albazzaz

March 28, 2008

Court orders consolidation of Abtan and Albazzaz

For purposes of pre-trial discovery and briefing, the Abtan and Albazzaz cases are consolidated.

January 22, 2008 - February 19, 2008

Albazzaz: Briefing on defendants' motion to dismiss

January 22, 2008 - February 19, 2008

Albazzaz: Briefing on defendants' motion to dismiss

On January 22, 2008, defendants file a motion to dismiss the case and to dismiss three of the named Defendants, Blackwater Worldwide, Blackwater USA, and Blackwater Canine, as non-legal entities that were divisions of the corporation. On February 19, 2008, Plaintiffs’ file their opposition to Defendants’ motion to dismiss, submitting that the District of Columbia, where Defendants routinely conducted business and entered into contracts, was the proper venue to file the complaint. 

December 19, 2007

Albazzaz and Aziz v. Blackwater Lodge and Training, et al. filed

December 19, 2007

Albazzaz and Aziz v. Blackwater Lodge and Training, et al. filed

The initial complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case is assigned to Judge Reggie Walton.

November 27, 2007

First amended complaint filed in Abtan

November 27, 2007

First amended complaint filed in Abtan

The first amended complaint is filed in Abtan, adding plaintiffs.

October 11, 2007

Abtan, et al. v. Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, Inc. filed

October 11, 2007

Abtan, et al. v. Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, Inc. filed

The initial complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  The case is assigned to Judge Reggie Walton.