Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Federal judge returns shooting lawsuit involving company once known as Blackwater to NC court

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Survivors and estates of Iraqis killed during an infamous 2007 shooting involving a U.S. security company’s contractors cannot sue the firm or its workers in federal court, a judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said in his decision that nonresident aliens are typically unable to sue in federal court for injuries sustained outside the country. He sent the case back to a North Carolina court, where the lawsuit was initially filed.

“We intend to vigorously pursue our claims,” said attorney Jim Roberts, who represents the Iraqi survivors who brought suit. He said he was pleased that the case was returning to Wake County. The plaintiffs had argued that nonresident aliens are permitted to sue in North Carolina courts.

The lawsuit accuses the security company formerly known as Blackwater and its contractors of wrongful death and negligence in the shooting that killed 17 Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. It was filed on behalf of three people killed in the shooting — Ali Kinani, Abrahem Abed Al Mafraje and Mahde Sahab Naser Shamake — along with survivors of the dead and others who were wounded.

Attorneys for the company, now known as Xe Services, argued last year that Blackwater contractors were essentially acting as employees of the U.S. government because they were providing security to State Department personnel. Because of that, the government should serve as the target of the lawsuit, lawyers argued.

Boyle did not issue an opinion on that question. An attorney for the company did not immediately return a call Wednesday.

The Blackwater shooting became a flashpoint of the Iraq war, straining relations between Washington and Baghdad. Five of the company contractors were initially charged with manslaughter for their role. A federal judge dismissed those charges a year ago, citing missteps by the government.

A sixth contractor, Jeremy Ridgeway, pleaded guilty in the criminal case.

Please see the original here

January 26, 2011 - Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , ,

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