DC Circuit - The FindLaw DC Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

June 2015 Archives

Following the D.C. Circuit's decision on Friday, military tribunals will have a more difficult time prosecuting terrorists. The court threw out another charge brought against Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, a former assistant to Osama bin Laden.

For the past 13 years, al-Bahlul has been held in Guantanamo Bay. A number of criminal charges have been brought against him unsuccessfully. The latest charge, conspiracy, was knocked down by the D.C. Circuit for a simple reason: the international law of war doesn't recognize the offense of conspiracy.

A $2 billion class action brought by injured defense contractor employees against military contractors and insurance companies was dismissed by the D.C. Circuit on Thursday. The defense contractor employees suffered a range of injuries while working for the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, from lost limbs, to traumatic brain injuries.

Their suit argued that they were repeatedly denied medical care, given false information and had benefits impermissibly withheld. However, the D.C. Circuit found that, since the workers were covered by the Defense Base Act, that Act's exclusivity provision prevented any common-law or state remedies for their claims.

Tobacco companies won't have to include disclosures stating that a federal court has ruled they deliberately deceived the American public, the D.C. Circuit ruled last week. While statements about the health consequences and addictiveness of cigarettes can be required, forcing the companies to announce the court's findings is too backwards looking to be allowed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The case is the fifth appeal in a suit that was filed 15 years ago, when the U.S. sued Philip Morris and eight other "Big Tobacco" companies. According to the government, the companies engaged in illegal RICO violations through an "ongoing conspiracy to deceive the American public" about cigarettes' addictiveness and health consequences. The court agreed and imposed strict civil remedies to prevent future violations.