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Man May Pursue Claims Over Kidnapping Ransom

WASHINGTON (CN) - For the second time since 2005, the D.C. Circuit has reinstated an accountant's claim that kidnappers cut off part of his ear because his former employer, Parsons Global Service, dithered on paying his ransom.

While working for the D.C.-based company in the Philippines, Khan was kidnapped by three men in Manila. During his three-week detention, his abusers tortured him by chaining him to the floor and trying to hang him, among other forms of torture.

Parsons promised Khan's wife, Asma Azhar Khan, that the company would pay his ransom, but delayed paying it until the kidnappers made good on their threat to cut off a portion of Khan's ear. The kidnappers sent Parsons a videotape of the mutilation, and Parsons promptly paid the ransom. Khan was released the next day.

Khan and his wife sued the company in 2003 for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, but the district court dismissed their claims and told them to pursue their grievances through workers' compensation.

The D.C. Circuit reversed and remanded in the first round of appeals, citing a "traveling employee exception" to the Workers' Compensation Act.

The district court again dismissed plaintiffs' claims, this time because Khan had signed an arbitration agreement with Parsons.

But the D.C. Circuit once again reversed and reinstated the Khans' claims, saying Parsons waived its right to arbitration by requesting summary judgment. The court also allowed Asma Khan to pursue her claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

"Mrs. Khan can certainly allege facts, consistent with the complaint, that are 'so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency,'" Judge Rogers wrote for the unanimous court.

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