University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Salim v. Mitchell NS-WA-0003
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-00286 ( E.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) National Security
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On October 13, 2015 two men and the estate of a third man, filed this lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. The plaintiffs sued James Mitchell and John Jessen, psychologists who “designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program� ... read more >
On October 13, 2015 two men and the estate of a third man, filed this lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. The plaintiffs sued James Mitchell and John Jessen, psychologists who “designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program” for the CIA, under the Alien Tort Statute (28 U.S.C. § 1350) for human rights violations. Complaint (Clearinghouse Document 1). The plaintiffs, represented by public interest and private counsel, sought monetary relief for "physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering." Complaint (Clearinghouse Document 1). The plaintiffs claimed that torture, non-consensual human experimentation, and war crimes had been committed against them during detention by the United States.

On January 8, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that “1) the court lacks jurisdiction due to the Political Question Doctrine; 2) Defendants are entitled to derivative sovereign immunity; 3) the Alien Tort Statute does not confer jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims; and 4) Plaintiff Obaid Ullah lacks the capacity to sue.” 183 F. Supp. 3d 1121. A motion hearing was held on April 22, 2016 and the motion was denied on April 28, 2016. In doing so the court took “the well pleaded factual allegations as true” and found that none of the contested grounds required the court to dismiss the case. 183 F. Supp. 3d 1121.

The defendants filed another motion to dismiss on November 18, 2016 claiming that “the Military Commissions Act (‘MCA’)...deprives this court of jurisdiction over 'non-habeas detention-related claims' brought by an alien when the alien was determined to have been properly detained by the United States as an ‘enemy combatant.” U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11800. The plaintiffs opposed the motion arguing that this statute does not apply because the defendants are not government agents or military service members and the plaintiffs were not enemy combatants.

A motion hearing was held on January 19, 2017 and Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush denied the motion to dismiss on January 27, 2017. The motion was denied on the grounds that the defendants have not proved “an agency relationship with the Government” and “[n]one of the three Plaintiffs was determined by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal to be an ‘enemy combatant.’” 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11800.

The case is ongoing.

Rachel Barr - 02/19/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Conditions of confinement
International law
Over/Unlawful Detention
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Torture
Totality of conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1350
Defendant(s) James Elmer Mitchell
John "Bruce" Jessen
Plaintiff Description Two men and the estate of a third man, alleging torture while in the custody of the CIA.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
2:15-cv-286 (E.D. Wash.)
NS-WA-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/16/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 1]
NS-WA-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/13/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order Denying Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 40] (183 F.Supp.3d 1121) (E.D. Wash.)
NS-WA-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/28/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Re: Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 135] (2017 WL 390270) (E.D. Wash.)
NS-WA-0003-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Quackenbush, Justin Lowe (E.D. Wash.)
NS-WA-0003-0002 | NS-WA-0003-0003 | NS-WA-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baker, La Rond (Washington)
NS-WA-0003-0001 | NS-WA-0003-9000
Chiang, Emily (Washington)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Frey, Avram D. (New Jersey)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Hoffman, Paul L. (California)
NS-WA-0003-0001 | NS-WA-0003-9000
Jaffer, Jameel (New York)
NS-WA-0003-0001 | NS-WA-0003-9000
Janukowicz, Kate E. (New Jersey)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Ladin, Dror (New York)
NS-WA-0003-0001 | NS-WA-0003-9000
Lustberg, Lawrence S. (New Jersey)
NS-WA-0003-9000
McGrady, Daniel J. (New Jersey)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Shamsi, Hina (New York)
NS-WA-0003-0001 | NS-WA-0003-9000
Watt, Steven M. (New York)
NS-WA-0003-0001 | NS-WA-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Paszamant, Brian S. (Pennsylvania)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Schuelke, Henry F. III (District of Columbia)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Smith, James T. (Pennsylvania)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Tompkins, Christopher W. (Washington)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Other Lawyers Johnson, Timothy Andrew (District of Columbia)
NS-WA-0003-9000
Warden, Andrew Irwin (District of Columbia)
NS-WA-0003-9000

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