Judge Winnows Discovery in Iraq Shooting Case

     (CN) – A federal magistrate judge narrowed the scope of documents a U.S. soldier can compel a London-based security contractor to produce in his lawsuit accusing mercenaries of shooting and wounding him in Iraq.
     Sgt. Khadim Alkanani claimed he was shot in the foot and permanently disabled by an unidentified Aegis Defence Services guard as he was returning from Baghdad International Airport from an intelligence mission on June 3, 2005.
     The U.S. Army contracted the London-based Aegis Defence Services Ltd. in May 2004 to provide security services and anti-terrorism support in Iraq through November 2007. To carry out the work, the contractor formed a U.S. subsidiary, Aegis Defense Services LLC, in which it held a 99 percent interest, and incorporated in Delaware.
     Alkanani sued Aegis U.K. and its subsidiary in the District of Columbia in August 2009.
     In a motion to dismiss, Aegis U.K. claimed the D.C. court lacked jurisdiction over the complaint, because the contractor is based in London and owns 99 percent of its U.S. subsidiary.
     Alkanani countered that the defendants had not yet produced documents that would allow him to establish personal jurisdiction.
     The trial judge declined to dismiss the case and sent the discovery dispute, styled as a motion to compel, to a magistrate judge.
     To establish jurisdiction over Aegis U.K. in the District of Columbia, Alkanani sought four categories of documents: the contractor’s income tax returns from the last seven years, all correspondence and contracts with a Georgia company it allegedly hired for recruitment and vetting, and a list of all vendors and U.S. customers Aegis U.K. has conducted business with over the past seven years.
     Alkanani said the documents would establish jurisdiction by proving that Aegis U.K. had “continuous and systematic contacts” with the District of Columbia. He also claimed that the first two categories of documents would show that Aegis U.K. and its Delaware subsidiary are one and the same corporation, and effectively alter-egos of one another.
     Aegis objected to providing any income tax returns and argued that the scope of the remaining requests was far too broad.
     U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay found the tax returns relevant, but limited them to federal and D.C. filings only from 2006 through 2009 — not the seven years Alkanani sought. He also reined in the remaining requests to documents related to “business activity inside the District.”
     “[O]nly information about Aegis UK’s business activity inside the District is relevant to assessing the continuity and substance of Aegis UK’s contacts with the District,” Kay wrote. He said Alkanani’s contract with the Georgia vetting company is irrelevant, because it’s outside the district.
     “No evidence exists that this would shed any light on Plaintiff’s contacts within the District,” Kay wrote.
     Similarly, he ruled that Alkanani is entitled to a list of vendors and contracts within the District of Columbia only, which Aegis U.K. claimed it already gave him.
     “Assuming these lists are comprehensive, further requests for the same information are cumulative, duplicative, and burdensome,” Kay concluded.

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