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Saleh et al v. Titan et al.

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Saleh v. Titan is a federal lawsuit brought by more than 250 Iraqi plaintiffs against private contractors CACI International Incorporated and Titan Corporation (now L-3 Services). It charges the companies with torture and other heinous and illegal acts committed against Iraqi detainees while the contractors were providing interrogation and translation services at detention facilities in Iraq, including at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.


On September 11, 2009, in a 2-1 decision, a panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the dismissal of all claims against Titan/L-3, and, reversing to the district court, also dismissed all claims against CACI.  Judge Garland issued a 39-page dissent, in which he argued that Plaintiffs’ state law claims should not be preempted and the case against both Titan/L-3 and CACI should be allowed to proceed.

On January 25, 2010, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order denying plaintiffs' petition for rehearing en banc.

On April 26, 2010, CCR filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Plaintiffs and against government contractors CACI International and Titan Corporation.  On May 28, 2010, three amicus briefs were filed in support of Plaintiffs' petition for certiorari.  On June 28, 2010 Defendants filed their oppositions to the cert petition.  On July 13, 2010, Plaintiffs filed their Reply brief.  Plaintiffs' petition for certiorari was listed for conference of September 27, 2010.

On October 4, 2010, the Supreme Court invited the Acting Solicitor General to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States. The US amicus brief was filed on May 27, 2011.  The Acting Solicitor General submitted that cert should be denied.  Plaintiffs filed a supplemental brief in response to the US amicus brief on June 17, 2011. 

On June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court issued an order denying Plaintiffs petition for certiorari, thereby ending this case.


Saleh v. Titan was brought as a class action lawsuit against Titan Corporation and CACI International Inc., the U.S. government contractors at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq. It charges that Defendants, through their employees, including Steven Stefanowicz of CACI International Inc., and Adel Nakhla and John Israel of Titan Corporation, directed and participated in illegal conduct at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where CACI and Titan were hired by the U.S. to provide interrogation and translation services.

The suit, brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and federal question jurisdiction, charges Defendants with violations of state, federal and international law, including torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; war crimes; crimes against humanity; negligent hiring and supervision; and sexual assault and battery. Plaintiffs also brought claims under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, which have since been dismissed. The case was initially filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and has since been transferred to the District of Columbia.

Among the heinous acts which the Plaintiffs were subjected to at the hands of the Defendants and certain government co-conspirators were: rape and threats of rape and other forms of sexual assault; being forced to watch a family member being tortured and abused so badly that he died; repeated beatings, including beatings with chains, boots and other objects; forced nudity; hooding; being detained in isolation; being urinated on and otherwise humiliated; and being prevented from praying and otherwise abiding by their religious practices. Through this action, Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages.

The named plaintiff, Haidar Saleh, is a Swedish citizen who was residing in Michigan at the time the suit was filed. He opposed the Ba’ath Party and was imprisoned and tortured under Saddam Hussein, in the Abu Ghraib prison. After being released from prison, Mr. Saleh fled from Iraq to Sweden. After the Hussein regime fell, in response to the United States’ plea for expatriates to return and help rebuild Iraq, Saleh returned to Iraq with funds to invest and rebuild the country. Upon his arrival in September 2003, he was detained and was sent to the same Abu Ghraib prison where he had been tortured by Saddam Hussein.

The plaintiffs in this case are represented by Susan L. Burke and Katherine Hawkins of Burke LLC, of Washington, D.C.; Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Birmingham, Michigan.


June 9, 2004: Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against Titan Corporation, CACI International Inc., Steven Stefanowicz (a CACI interrogator), Adel Nakhla (a Titan linguist) and John Israel (a Titan linguist), in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

July 30, 2004: Plaintiffs filed a RICO case statement along with an amended complaint.

September 10, 2004: Defendants filed motions to dismiss.

September 14, 2004: Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction against CACI.

October 20, 2004: CACI filed its opposition to the motion for preliminary injunction.

October 22, 2004: Plaintiffs filed oppositions to the motions to dismiss.

November 19, 2004: Defendants filed their reply briefs.

March 2005: The case was transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia.

June 10, 2005: The case was transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

January 13, 2006: The order to transfer to the D.C. District Court was reaffirmed upon reconsideration by Judge Claude M. Hilton of Eastern District of Virginia. Judge Hilton found that the D.D.C. has personal jurisdiction under the RICO Act.

March 22, 2006: Plaintiffs filed the third amended complaint.

April 7, 2006: Defendants filed motions to dismiss the amended complaint.

June 26, 2006: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge James Robertson denied CACI and Titan's motion to dismiss. In this decision, Judge Robertson denied Defendants’ claims that this case should be dismissed under the political question doctrine. He also dismissed plaintiffs’ claims under the ATS and RICO. He further found that personal jurisdiction was lacking over the individual named Defendants.

November 6, 2007: After having granted limited discovery on the “government contractor defense” issue following the filing of motions for summary judgment by the Defendants, Judge Robertson denied CACI's motion for summary judgment and ordered a jury trial against CACI. Judge Robertson also, however, granted Titan's motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing the case against Titan.

December 17, 2007: Plaintiffs filed the fourth amended complaint.

December 17, 2007: Judge Robertson granted CACI’s motion for certification of interlocutory appeal.

January 2, 2008: CACI filed a petition with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to appeal Judge Robertson’s denial of their motion for summary judgment.

January 14, 2008: Plaintiffs filed a motion in opposition to CACI’s petition to appeal.

January 29, 2008: Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to appeal Judge Robertson’s final judgment in favor of Titan.

March 17, 2008: the U.S. District Court granted CACI’s petition to appeal the denial of their motion for summary judgment.

July 28, 2008: CACI filed opening appellate brief.

August 28, 2008: Plaintiffs filed their brief in the CACI appeal.

September 3, 2008: Plaintiffs filed their opening appellate brief in the Titan appeal.

September 10, 2008: CACI filed its reply brief.

October 17, 2008: Titan filed its appellate brief.

October 17, 2008: CACI filed intervenor brief in Titan appeal.

October 30, 2008: Plaintiffs filed motion to strike portions of CACI’s intervenor brief.

November 3, 2008: Plaintiffs filed reply brief in Titan appeal.

February 10, 2009: Oral argument before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Judges Garland, Kavanaugh and Silberman).

September 11, 2009: Decision of the Court of Appeals issued. Majority (Judges Silberman and Kavanaugh) find plaintiffs’ state law claims are preempted under either conflict preemption (combatant activities exception) or field preemption (“battlefield preemption”). The majority also found that Plaintiffs’ ATS claims, including claims of torture and war crimes, could not be brought against contractors because they are not “state actors.” Judge Garland wrote a dissent, in which he found that no basis in law or policy for dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims.

October 13, 2009: Plaintiffs petition for rehearing en banc

November 4, 2009: Defendants' response to Plaintiffs' petition for rehearing en banc filed.

November 30, 2009: Defendants in the CACI Appeal's response to Plaintiffs' petition for rehearing en banc.

January 25, 2010: U.S. DC Circuit denied Plaintiffs' petition for rehearing en banc.

April 26, 2010: Plaintiffs petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.

May 28, 2010: Three amicus briefs filed in support of Plaintiffs' petition for certiorari.

June 28, 2010: Opposition briefs filed by Titan/L-3 Services and CACI.

July 13, 2010: Plaintiffs' reply brief filed.

October 4, 2010: The U.S. Supreme Court invited the Acting Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the views of the United States.

May 27, 2011: Amicus Brief filed on behalf of the United States.

June 17, 2011: Plaintiffs' supplemental brief in response to U.S. amicus brief filed.

June 27, 2011: The Supreme Court denied Plaintiffs petition for certiorari, thereby ending this case.

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