Al Shimari, et al. v. CACI

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

June 30, 2008

Current Status 

The April 23, 2019 trial date was suspended while the parties briefed CACI's appeal. After briefing and oral argument, on August 23, 2019, the Fourth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. CACI filed a petition for rehearing en banc, which was denied on October 1, 2019. On October 7, 2019, CACI moved to stay the mandate pending its filing of a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, which the Fourth Circuit denied on October 11, 2019. CACI moved to stay the proceedings in the Eastern District of Virginia pending its petition for a writ of certiorari on October 25, 2019, which the district court granted on November 1, 2019. CACI filed its petition for certiorari on November 15, 2019.

Co-Counsel 

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

Client(s) 

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

Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid was formerly a client in the case.

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 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. 

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 two 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.

Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid was dismissed from the case in February 2019. He 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.

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

Case Timeline

November 15, 2019
CACI petitions Supreme Court
November 15, 2019
CACI petitions Supreme Court
November 1, 2019
Case is stayed in Eastern District of Virginia pending petition to Supreme Court
November 1, 2019
Case is stayed in Eastern District of Virginia pending petition to Supreme Court
CACI moves to stay the case in the Eastern District of Virginia on October 25, 2019. Plaintiffs oppose on October 29, 2019, and the court grants the stay on November 1, 2019.
October 7, 2019
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejects motion to stay mandate pending CACI's petition to Supreme Court
October 7, 2019
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejects motion to stay mandate pending CACI's petition to Supreme Court
CACI files a motion to stay the mandate pending its petition for writ of certioriari on October 7, 2019, which the Fourth Circuit denies on October 11, 2019.
October 1, 2019
Fourth Circuit denies petition for rehearing en banc
October 1, 2019
Fourth Circuit denies petition for rehearing en banc
September 5, 2019
CACI files petition for rehearing en banc
September 5, 2019
CACI files petition for rehearing en banc
August 23, 2019
Fourth Circuit dismisses appeal for lack of jurisdiction
August 23, 2019
Fourth Circuit dismisses appeal for lack of jurisdiction
July 10, 2019
Oral argument in Fourth Circuit
July 10, 2019
Oral argument in Fourth Circuit
April 23, 2019
Appellate briefing in Fourth Circuit
April 23, 2019
Appellate briefing in Fourth Circuit
CACI files its appellate brief on April 23, 2019. The United States files a brief of amicus curiae on April 30, 2019. We file our appellate brief on May 14, 2019. Three briefs of amicus curiae are filed in support of our brief on May 21, 2019. CACI files its reply brief on May 24, 2019.
March 22, 2019
U.S. is dismissed as party to proceedings
March 22, 2019
U.S. is dismissed as party to proceedings
Judge Brinkema grants the U.S. government's motion to dismiss the third-party complaint on the breach of contract claim, and grants its motion for summary judgment on all remaining claims, thereby dismissing the U.S. government as a party to these proceedings. In her decision, Judge Brinkema also denies CACI's motion to dismiss the case based on derivative immunity.
March 4, 2019
CACI files petition for writ of mandamus to Fourth Circuit
March 4, 2019
CACI files petition for writ of mandamus to Fourth Circuit
The court denies the petition on March 27, 2019.
February 28, 2019
CACI files motion to dismiss based on derivative immunity
February 28, 2019
CACI files motion to dismiss based on derivative immunity
Our opposition is filed on March 14, 2019, and CACI files its reply on March 19, 2019.
February 27, 2019
Judge Brinkema denies CACI's motions to dismiss under state secrets privilege and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, denies CACI's motion for summary judgment for Salah Al-Ejaili, Suhail Al Shimari, and Asa'ad Al-Zuba'e
February 27, 2019
Judge Brinkema denies CACI's motions to dismiss under state secrets privilege and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, denies CACI's motion for summary judgment for Salah Al-Ejaili, Suhail Al Shimari, and Asa'ad Al-Zuba'e
The judge dismisses the motions from the bench during oral argument. The case will now proceed to trial on April 23, 2019 at 10:00 AM EST in Courtroom 700 of the federal district court for the eastern district of Virginia in Alexandria, Virginia.
February 15, 2019
U.S. files motion for summary judgment against CACI
January 3, 2019
CACI files motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
January 3, 2019
CACI files motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
Our opposition is filed on January 29, 2019, and CACI files its reply on February 8, 2019.
December 20, 2018
CACI files motion to dismiss under state secrets privilege
December 20, 2018
CACI files motion to dismiss under state secrets privilege
Our opposition is filed on January 22, 2019, and CACI files its reply on February 6, 2019.
December 20, 2018
CACI files motion for summary judgment
December 20, 2018
CACI files motion for summary judgment
Our opposition is filed on January 22, 2019, and CACI files its reply on February 6, 2019.
October 25, 2018
Trial is scheduled for April 2019 at final pre-trial conference
October 25, 2018
Trial is scheduled for April 2019 at final pre-trial conference
Judge Brinkema schedules trial to begin on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 10 AM EST in Courtroom 700 of the federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia.
June 15, 2018

Judge Brinkema denies CACI’s motion to dismiss following Supreme Court Jesner decision

June 15, 2018

Judge Brinkema denies CACI’s motion to dismiss following Supreme Court Jesner decision

In her June 25, 2018 opinion, Judge Brinkema denies CACI's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' ATS claims, finding that Jesner v. Arab Bank only curtails ATS jurisdiction over foreign corporations. Judge Brinkema further finds that adjudication of the Abu Ghraib torture survivors' claims against a U.S. corporation raises no separation-of-powers or foreign relations concerns.

May 21, 2018

CACI files motion to dismiss case, citing recent Supreme Court decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank

May 21, 2018

CACI files motion to dismiss case, citing recent Supreme Court decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank

CCR files its opposition on June 4, 2018, arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Jesner v. Arab Bank case does not foreclose plaintiffs’ claims of torture, war crimes and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under the Alien Tort Statute against a domestic corporation. CACI files its reply on June 11, 2018.

March 14, 2018
U.S. files motion to dismiss CACI's third-party complaint
March 14, 2018
U.S. files motion to dismiss CACI's third-party complaint
CACI files its opposition on March 28, 2018, and the U.S. files its reply on April 5, 2018. A hearing is held April 12, 2018.
July 2017 - February 2018
Briefing and decision on CACI's motion to dismiss third amended complaint
July 2017 - February 2018
Briefing and decision on CACI's motion to dismiss third amended complaint
CACI files a motion to dismiss the third amended complaint on July 19, 2017. We file our opposition, with exhibits, on August 18, 2017, and CACI files its reply on August 31, 2017. At the September 22, 2017 hearing, Judge Brinkema denies CACI's motion to dismiss from the bench. In her February 21, 2018 opinion, Judge Brinkema rules that the conduct our clients suffered in the Hard Site at Abu Ghraib constitutes torture, war crimes, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. She also rules that we have plausibly alleged that CACI employees conspired and aided and abetted to cause these Alien Tort Statute violations.
January 17, 2018
CACI answers third amended complaint and files third-party complaint against United States
January 17, 2018
CACI answers third amended complaint and files third-party complaint against United States
Plaintiffs move to strike the third-party complaint on February 7, 2018, which CACI opposes on February 21, 2018.
January 3, 2018
Hearing before magistrate
January 3, 2018
Hearing before magistrate
The parties file status reports in advance of the hearing on December 27, 2017.
June 28, 2017

Court rules that claims for torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; and war crimes can be brought under Alien Tort Statute against private actors

June 28, 2017

Court rules that claims for torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; and war crimes can be brought under Alien Tort Statute against private actors

February 9, 2017
Court order on plaintiff video-link depositions
February 9, 2017
Court order on plaintiff video-link depositions
Following the court’s ruling at the December 16, 2016 hearing that remaining plaintiff depositions could occur via video-link, the court issues an order on the modalities for plaintiff video-link depositions, which are held February 15-16, 2017.
January 17, 2017
District court briefing on applicable law
January 17, 2017
District court briefing on applicable law
CCR and CACI file briefs on applicable law in the district court on January 17, 2017, and the court dismisses the common law claims in the case.
December 16, 2016
Status conference in district court
December 16, 2016
Status conference in district court
Judge Brinkema schedules a status conference for December 16, 2016. CACI files a status report to the court on November 16, 2016, and CCR files its status report on December 7, 2016.
October 21, 2016
Judge Lee of district court recuses himself from case; case reassigned to Judge Brinkema
October 21, 2016
Judge Lee of district court recuses himself from case; case reassigned to Judge Brinkema

Judge Lee issues the order of recusal sua sponte.

October 21, 2016
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates case
October 21, 2016
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates case
In a unanimous decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the district court's dismissal of the case on political question grounds. The court holds that the judiciary can review unlawful conduct, including torture, "irrespective whether that conduct occurred under the actual control of the military." In a concurring opinion, Judge Floyd confirms that "it is beyond the power of even the President to declare [torture] lawful."
May 12, 2016
Oral argument is held before Judges Keenan, Floyd, and Thacker
September 28, 2015
Amicus briefs are submitted in support of CCR's clients
September 28, 2015
Amicus briefs are submitted in support of CCR's clients

Amicus briefs are submitted by professors of constitutional law and federal courts, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez, retired military officers, human rights organizations, former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora, and survivors of gross human rights violations who have won ATS cases.  Government contractor trade associations and KBR file amicus briefs in support of CACI on October 30 and November 2, 2015.

September - November 2015
CCR appeals dismissal to Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
September - November 2015
CCR appeals dismissal to Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
CCR files our opening appellate brief on September 21, 2015. CACI files its opposition brief on October 26, 2015, and we file our reply on November 9, 2015.
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.

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.

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.