Monday, December 4, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Appeal Won’t Interrupt Nepali ‘Slavery’ Case

HOUSTON (CN) - A contractor accused of trafficking Nepali laborers into Iraq to staff Al Asad Air Base cannot seek an interim appeal, a federal judge ruled.

In a 2008 federal RICO complaint, Nepali families claimed that U.S. military contractors duped 13 men into indentured servitude in Iraq.

With promises of a $500 monthly salary, many of the men believed they would be working at a luxury hotel in Jordan. But they later learned that they were actually on their way to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, according to the complaint. At that point, the large brokerage fees they owed allegedly kept the men from turning back for home.

Insurgents from the Ansar al-Sunna Army captured 12 of the men in August 2004 as they traveled in the front of an unsecured 17-car caravan along the Amman-to-Baghdad highway in Iraq's Anbar province, the families say. The 13th man, Buddi Prasad Gurung, was in a separate car and evaded capture, according to the complaint.

When the insurgents executed the captives, international news stations aired the footage of their deaths, reaching the men's families in Nepal, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit against the military contractors, Daoud & Partners and Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), was removed from the Central District of California to the Southern District of Texas.

On Dec. 12, 2011, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison dismissed some of the claims against Daoud from the families, as well as some of the cross-claims that the company faced from KBR.

The 48-page order upheld personal jurisdiction over Daoud, but dismissed negligence and false-imprisonment claims by Gurung, the lone survivor.

Daoud sought an interlocutory appeal, but Ellison refused the maneuver Monday.

"Daoud urges that three issues in the December order are appropriate for interlocutory review: (1) whether Daoud's performance of government subcontracts overseas gives rise to general jurisdiction; (2) whether separate jurisdictional inquiries, which the court did not conduct, were required for two allegedly different Daoud entities; and (3) whether the indemnification clause in Daoud's contract with KBR establishes specific jurisdiction," Ellison wrote.

The judge rejected all three points.

"This court does not take lightly the Supreme Court's admonition that '[g]reat care and reserve should be exercised when extending our notions of personal jurisdiction into the international field,'" Ellison wrote. "In concluding that it has general personal jurisdiction over Daoud, the court exercised such care, and did so pursuant to the standards provided by the Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit."

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.