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Estate of Himoud Saed Abtan, et al. v. Prince., et al. is a civil case filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against private government contractor, Blackwater (now known as “Xe Services”) and Erik Prince, its founder. The case was brought by those injured and the families of those killed following the Nisoor Square shooting on September 16, 2007. The case has been consolidated with four other cases against Blackwater/Xe for pre-trial discovery and briefing; Judge T.S. Ellis, III is presiding over the consolidated cases.
The settlement of the case concluded on January 6, 2010.
Estate of Himoud Saed Abtan, et al. v. Prince., et al. was filed against Blackwater, the private military contractor whose heavily armed personnel opened fire on Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad on September 16, 2007 by Iraqi citizens injured or the estates of those killed in Nisoor Square. The Defendants include Blackwater founder Erik Prince, U.S. Training Center, Inc. (formerly Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, Inc.), Blackwater Security Consulting LLC, GSD Manufacturing LLC (formerly Blackwater Targets Systems), Raven Development Group LLC, Greystone Limited, The Prince Group LLC, Total Intelligence Solutions LLC, and Xe Services LLC (formerly EP Investments LLC and d/b/a Blackwater Worldwide).
The case was initially filed on behalf of Talib Mutlaq Deewan, an Iraqi civilian who was injured by Blackwater personnel during the incident, and the families of three deceased men – Himoud Saed Abtan, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem. Subsequent amendments to the complaint joined the families of additional Iraqi civilian who were killed, Ali Khaleel, Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq, Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, and Ghaniyah Hassan Ali. Twenty-one additional Iraqis who were injured are also now plaintiffs in the case: 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.
The complaint alleges that Blackwater and its affiliated companies violated state, federal and international law, and “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.” The complaint also alleged that Blackwater routinely deploys heavily-armed “shooters” in the streets of Baghdad with the knowledge that some of them are chemically influenced by steroids or other judgment-altering substances. It further alleges that the Blackwater personnel who fired on the Iraqi civilians had ignored directives from the Tactical Operations Center (“TOC”), which was manned by both Blackwater and Department of State personnel, not to go to Nisoor Square. (The Department of Justice is prosecuting five of the “shooters” involved in the Nisoor Square massacre; one additional shooter has pled guilty.)
Plaintiffs allege that Erik Prince and the Blackwater companies are liable under the federal Alien Tort Statute (ATS) for committing war crimes and summary execution, and that they are liable for assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, training and supervision, and tortious spoliation of evidence. Plaintiffs have also included one count under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for death, physical, mental, and economic injuries along with intentional and willful destruction of evidence, as well as punitive damages. The injured civilians and the families of victims of the Nisoor Square shooting are represented by Susan L. Burke and William F. Gould of Burke O’Neil LLC, Washington, D.C., and Katherine Gallagher, of the Center for Constitutional Rights.