Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Military Law
Aikens v. Ingram, Jr.
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against two former members of the North Carolina Army National Guard, Adjutant General William E. Ingram, and Lieutenant Colonel Peter von Jess, alleging that defendants violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Plaintiff claimed that defendants, motivated by revenge, directed other service members to monitor plaintiff’s email messages, which he sent while serving on active duty in Kuwait, and to forward incriminating messages to von Jess. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants based on the justiciability doctrine in Mindes v. Seaman. Mindes provided a four-factor test for reviewability of claims based on internal military affairs. The court acknowledged that defendant now renounces any claim for equitable relief and affirmed the district court's judgment on the basis of the military abstention doctrine set forth in Feres v. United States. In this case, plaintiff's alleged injuries arose out of activity incident to his service where he was on active duty, deployed in a war zone, and used a computer system set up by the DOD for military personnel deployed at Camp Doha. View "Aikens v. Ingram, Jr." on Justia Law
Ameur v. Gates
Plaintiff filed suit under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1350, against former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other federal officials allegedly involved in his detention as a suspected terrorist. Plaintiff was determined to be an "enemy combatant" but was eventually released to his native country of Algeria. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, 28 U.S.C. 2241(e)(2). View " Ameur v. Gates" on Justia Law
Al Shimari v. CACI Premier Technology, Inc.
Plaintiffs, foreign nationals, alleged that they were tortured and otherwise mistreated by American civilian and military personnel while detained at Abu Ghraib. CACI, a corporation domiciled in the United States, contracted with the United States to provide private interrogators to interrogate detainees at Abu Ghraib. Plaintiffs alleged that CACI employees instigated, directed, participated in, encouraged, and aided and abetted conduct towards detainees that clearly violated federal and international law. The court concluded that the Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. does not foreclose plaintiffs' claims under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1350, and that the district court erred in reaching a contrary conclusion. In light of Kiobel, the court held that plaintiffs' claims "touch and concern" the territory of the United States with sufficient force to displace the presumption against extraterritorial application of the Alien Tort Statute. Because the court was unable to determine whether the claims presented nonjusticiable political questions, the court did not reach the additional issue of the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' common law claims. The court vacated the district court's judgment with respect to all plaintiffs' claims and remanded. View "Al Shimari v. CACI Premier Technology, Inc." on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Kurt Bunk v. Gosselin World Wide Moving
Relators filed suit in district court asserting claims arising from a Direct Procurement Method (DPM) scheme. The DOD instituted the International Through Government Bill of Lading program to govern transoceanic moves, while relying on the DPM to contract for transport strictly on the European continent. These appeals and cross-appeals were taken from final judgments, entered in accordance with Rule 54(b), in two qui tam actions consolidated for litigation in district court. The court concluded that relator possessed standing to sue for civil penalties while bypassing the prospect of a damages award and, therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in his favor; the court reversed and remanded to the extent that the district court denied relator discovery of any penalties; and the court vacated the district court's ruling in favor of the United States so that it could conduct further proceedings on what remained of the government's FCA claim and reentered judgment as appropriate. View "United States ex rel. Kurt Bunk v. Gosselin World Wide Moving" on Justia Law
Durden v. United States
Plaintiff filed suit against the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), alleging that the Army was negligent and therefore liable for an Army Specialist's sexual assault against plaintiff. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the government, concluding that plaintiff failed to establish that the sexual assault was foreseeable under North Carolina law, and thus the Army did not breach a duty owed to plaintiff as landlord of Fort Bragg; the Army did not have a special relationship with the assailant for purposes of an FTCA claim; the government did not breach a voluntarily assumed duty to plaintiff; and, because discovery would serve no purpose, it was not error for the district court to reach the merits of plaintiff's claim at this stage of the litigation. The court also concluded that, although the government's ability to control a tortfeasor must be independent of the tortfeasor's status as a government employee, knowledge of the tortfeasor's propensity for violence or criminal history did not, per se nullify an FTCA claim. Accordingly, the district court's dismissal on this alternative basis was erroneous. View "Durden v. United States" on Justia Law
Cioca v. Rumsfeld
Plaintiffs, current and former members of the armed forces, brought suit against defendants, two former Secretaries of Defense, alleging that they were victims of rape and sexual misconduct by fellow servicemembers during their military careers. Plaintiffs sought money damages pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The court held that no Bivens action will lie where special factors counsel hesitation in creating an implied right of action and special factors clearly counsel hesitation in implying a cause of action for injuries arising out of military service. The court concluded that judicial abstention was the proper course in this case pursuant to Chappell v. Wallace, United States v. Stanley, and Feres v. United States. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint. View "Cioca v. Rumsfeld" on Justia Law
Baldwin v. City of Greensboro
Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City. The district court held that plaintiff's claims under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. 4301-35, were barred by the four-year federal "catch-all" statute of limitations. The court held that section 1658(a) applied to plaintiff's claims because the language of that section unambiguously applied to civil actions arising under laws which, like USERRA, were enacted after December 1, 1990, and USERRA's successor statute did not apply retroactively. The court also held that plaintiff did not file this action within four years of its accrual, notwithstanding his tolling arguments. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Baldwin v. City of Greensboro" on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Carter v. Halliburton Co.
Plaintiff filed a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729, alleging that defendants fraudulently billed the United States for services provided to the military forces serving in Iraq. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of his complaint with prejudice. Because the court concluded that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction and the court found that the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act (WSLA), 18 U.S.C. 3287, applied to this action, the court reversed. Because it could be appropriate for the district court to make factual findings to consider the public disclosure claim urged by defendants the court remanded so the district court could consider this issue. View "United States ex rel. Carter v. Halliburton Co." on Justia Law
American Mgmt. Svcs. v. Dept. of the Army
Pinnacle claimed that the Army unlawfully withheld many communications between Clark and the Army, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552. The district court granted summary judgment to the Army and Pinnacle appealed. The court concluded that public disclosure of the Category C documents would impair the government's ability to get this necessary information in the future and that the documents were, therefore, confidential and fell within Exemption 4 of the Act. The court found that Category B documents were protected by the common interest doctrine and qualified as intra-agency communications pursuant to Exemption 5 of the Act. The court disposed of Pinnacle's remaining arguments and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "American Mgmt. Svcs. v. Dept. of the Army" on Justia Law
United States v. Brehm
Defendant-Appellant Sean Theodore Brehm, a citizen of South Africa, pled guilty to a federal charge of assault resulting in serious bodily injury, on condition that he be allowed to challenge through appeal the jurisdictional basis of the indictment underlying his conviction. The grand jury accused Defendant of stabbing a British subject, "J.O.," during an altercation at Kandahar Airfield, while both men were employed with private contractors supporting the NATO war effort in Afghanistan. On appeal, Defendant argued that the indictment's reliance on the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act was misplaced, in that the statute (which Defendant admitted was valid on its face) could not be applied to him in a manner consistent with the Constitution. Defendant also asserted that the government failed to establish a sufficient nexus between him and the United States to support the exercise of criminal jurisdiction, pointing out that, prior to his arrival in Virginia as an accused, neither he nor his victim had ever set foot in this country. Upon review, the Fourth Circuit rejected Defendant's challenges to his conviction and affirmed the district court's judgment. View "United States v. Brehm" on Justia Law