University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Meshal v. Higgenbotham NS-DC-0005
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-02178-EGS ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On November 10, 2009, a Muslim American citizen who was detained and tortured while traveling abroad filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under Bivens and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, against supervising agents and two unknown ... read more >
On November 10, 2009, a Muslim American citizen who was detained and tortured while traveling abroad filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under Bivens and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, against supervising agents and two unknown agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The plaintiff, represented by the ACLU and a human rights clinic at the Yale Law School, asked the court for compensatory damages, punitive damages, and other relief as necessary, claiming that he had been deprived of his Constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that while he was travelling in the Horn of Africa, he was detained, interrogated, and tortured at the direction of and by officials in the American government. After four months of mistreatment, he was returned home to New Jersey. He was never charged with a crime.

The federal government moved to dismiss the case, alleging that even if the plaintiff's allegations are true, he has no right to hold federal officials personally liable for their roles in his detention by foreign governments on foreign soil. On May 10, 2010, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. On March 6, 2012, the plaintiff filed a second amended complaint. The defendants renewed their motion to dismiss against this second amended complaint.

On June 13, 2014, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. Judge Sullivan wrote that the facts alleged in this case and the legal questions presented were deeply troubling. Nevertheless, Judge Sullivan wrote that the court was constrained by precedent that expressly rejected a Bivens remedy for citizens who allege that they have been mistreated, and even tortured, by the United States of America in the name of intelligence gathering, national security, or military affairs. Meshal v. Higgenbotham, 1:09-2178 (EGS), 2014 WL 2648032 (D.D.C. June 13, 2014)

Jessica Kincaid - 06/16/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
Religion discrimination
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Extradition
Over/Unlawful Detention
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Torture
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
National Origin/Ethnicity
Arab/Afgani/Middle Eastern
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Bivens
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Investigation
Plaintiff Description A U.S. citizen who was detained and tortured while traveling abroad
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Links Guest Post: New Resource — Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse FISA Archives
Just Security
Posted: Jun. 26, 2014
By: Margo Schlanger
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:09-cv-02178 (D.D.C.) 06/13/2014
NS-DC-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Damages and Declaratory Relief 11/10/2009
NS-DC-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Motion to Intervene as an Interested Party 12/11/2009
NS-DC-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint Damages and Declaratory Relief 02/21/2012
NS-DC-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 06/13/2014 (2014 WL 2648032) (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0005-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Sullivan, Emmet G. (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0005-0004 | NS-DC-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Choudhury, Nusrat Jahan (New York)
NS-DC-0005-0003 | NS-DC-0005-9000
Hafetz, Jonathon L. (New York)
NS-DC-0005-9000
Shamsi, Hina (New York)
NS-DC-0005-9000
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0005-0001 | NS-DC-0005-9000
Wizner, Ben (New York)
NS-DC-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Garren, Timothy P. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0005-0002
Greene, Glenn S. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0005-0002 | NS-DC-0005-9000
Mason, Mary Hampton (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0005-0002
Ravel, Ann Miller (California)
NS-DC-0005-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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