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Estates of Albazzaz, et al. v. Prince, et al. is a civil lawsuit 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 the families of three men killed in Iraq: Ali Hussamaldeen Albazzaz, Kadhum Kayiz Aziz, and Sa’ad Raheem Jarallah. The men were killed when Blackwater “shooters” opened fire on a crowd of Iraqi civilians in Al Watahba Square in Baghdad on September 9, 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.
Albazzaz, et al. v. Prince, et al. is a civil lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of the families of three men killed in Iraq: Ali Hussamaldeen Albazzaz, Kadhum Kayiz Aziz, and Sa’ad Raheem Jarallah. The men were killed when Blackwater “shooters” opened fire on a crowd of Iraqi civilians in Al Watahba Square in Baghdad on September 9, 2007. 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 Target 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 lawsuit alleges that heavily-armed Blackwater shooters fired without justification and caused multiple deaths. Mr. Albazzaz, the father of a newborn baby girl, 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 in the incident.
Through the complaint, CCR, serving as co-counsel for the Plaintiffs, allege that Erik Prince and Blackwater and its affiliated companies violated the federal Alien Tort Statute (ATS) in committing war crimes and that Prince and Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery; wrongful death; intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress; and negligent hiring, training and supervision under state law. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for death, physical, mental, and economic injuries, as well as punitive damages.
Blackwater has sought to have these cases dismissed by arguing that the Plaintiffs are really challenging the State Department’s policies, and not Blackwater’s lawlessness. Blackwater also argues that because they are not “state actors,” they cannot be bound by international law. In August 2009, the Plaintiffs’ legal team filed its opposition to Blackwater’s Motion to Dismiss. Oral arguments on the Motion to Dismiss were heard on August 28, 2009 and a decision is pending. Blackwater has also sought to have the U.S. government substituted as the defendant in the cases in place of Blackwater because, they argue, the “shooters” should be considered U.S. government employees and therefore the U.S. should assume any liability for Blackwater’s actions. The U.S. government will submit its response to Blackwater’s motion on October 8, 2009.
The families of Mr. Albazzaz, Mr. Aziz, and Mr. Jarallah are represented by Susan L. Burke and William F. Gould of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Washington, D.C.; Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
December 19, 2007: Initial complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, captioned “Albazzaz and Aziz v. Blackwater Lodge and Training, et al.” The case was assigned to Judge Reggie Walton.
January 22, 2008: Defendants’ filed motion to dismiss the case Defendants also filed motion to dismiss three of the named Defendants, Blackwater Worldwide, Blackwater USA, and Blackwater Canine, as non-legal entities that were divisions of the corporation.
February 19, 2008: Plaintiffs’ filed 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.
March 7, 2008: Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ opposition.
March 28, 2008: Court ordered that Albazzaz be consolidated with Estate of Himoud Saed Abtan, et al. v. Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, Inc., et al. for purposes of pre-trial discovery and briefing.
April 8, 2008: Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of venue, to which the Plaintiffs filed an opposition on April 22, 2008. On April 28, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a motion to file a third amended complaint in order to include a spoliation claim. Defendants filed opposition to motion to amend the complaint on May 7, 2008, to which the Plaintiffs filed a reply on May 19, 2008.
June 2, 2009: Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case in the District of Columbia.
June 2, 2009: Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Blackwater et al in the Eastern District of Virginia, on behalf of three men who were killed by Blackwater shooters. The case was captioned Albazzaz, et al. v. Prince, and was assigned to Judge T. S. Ellis, III.
July 17, 2009: Judge T.S. Ellis consolidated this case with the four other cases against Prince and the Blackwater companies pending in EDVA for all pretrial purposes, including discovery and dispositive motions.
July 20, 2009: Defendants filed consent motion to seal the Appendix to the Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.
July 22, 2009: Defendants filed motion seeking to enjoin the parties and their counsel from making extrajudicial statements regarding this litigation.
July 24, 2009: Consolidated motion to dismiss filed by Defendants.
July 31, 2009: Plaintiffs' filed opposition to Defendants' motion to bar all extrajudicial statements (with exhibits).
August 3, 2009: Plaintiffs' filed consolidated opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss (with exhibits).
August 7, 2009: Hearing on Defendants' motion to enjoin the parties from making any extrajudicial statements. Judge Ellis denied defendants’ motion.
August 10, 2009: Defendants’ filed motion to strike exhibits G and H (Declarations of John Does 1 and 2) to Plaintiffs’ August 3, 2009 opposition to Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
August 12, 2009: Defendants’ filed motion to substitute the United States in place of all Defendants pursuant to the Westfall Act.
August 17, 2009: Defendants’ filed reply in support of motion to dismiss.
August 19, 2009: Court ordered that the United States and Plaintiffs to file responsive pleadings by October 8, 2009 to Defendants’ motion for substitution under the Westfall Act.
August 21, 2009: Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Defendants’ motion to strike exhibits G and H (Declarations of John Does 1 and 2) to Plaintiffs’ August 3, 2009 opposition to Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
August 25, 2009: Defendants’ Reply to Response to Plaintiffs’ Opposition to their Motion to Strike John Doe Declarations. Plaintiffs filed a response to this reply on August 27, 2009.
August 27, 2009: Plaintiffs’ response to Defendants’ August 25, 2009 reply to response to motion.
August 28, 2009: Hearing held on Defendants’ motion to dismiss. Additional briefing ordered in relation to the impact of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17 on Iraqi courts' ability to hear the nonfederal claims.
September 4, 2009: Defendants’ and Plaintiffs’ filed memoranda in response to order for supplemental briefing on CPA 17.
September 8, 2009: Order that parties shall caption all pleadings “In re: Xe Services Alien Tort Litigation.”
September 16, 2009: Plaintiffs’ filed reply to Defendants’ supplemental briefing, with leave of the court.
September 21, 2009: Defendants’ filed response to Plaintiffs’ reply regarding supplemental briefing.
October 8, 2009: Plaintiffs’ filed memorandum in opposition to Defendants’ motion to substitute the United States as party in place of all Defendants and pursuant to the Westfall Act.
October 8, 2009: United States Government’s filed memorandum in opposition to Defendants’ motion to substitute the United States as party in place of all Defendants and pursuant to the Westfall Act.
October 9, 2009: Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ filed memoranda on supplemental authority, Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, Inc.
October 9, 2009: Plaintiffs’ filed motion to lift stay of discovery.
October 16, 2009: Hearing on Plaintiffs’ motion to lift stay. Motion denied.
October 21, 2009: Order on Defendants' motion to dismiss. Motion denied in part, granted in part, and deferred in part.
October 28, 2009: Plaintiffs' filed first amended complaint.
January 6, 2010: Order dismissing case with prejudice due to settlement.