Al-Khazraji v. United States

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Government

New York Law Journal

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Judge William M. Skretny

Goldbelt Eagle LLC employed Iraqi immigrant Al-Khazraji as a foreign language speaking role player for military training exercises. In 2006 he portrayed a civilian in a training scenario at Fort Dix, N.J. A hand grenade simulator thrown by an Army sergeant was to land in a detonation pit. It did not. Al-Khazraji, injured by shrapnel, receives Worker's Compensation payments under New Jersey law. After the Department of the Army rejected his claim for $4 million in damages, Al-Khazraji's lawsuit alleged jurisdiction under 28 USC §1346(b). The court substituted the government as defendant before dismissing Al-Khazraji's lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Based on the government's contract with Goldbelt Eagle and deposition testimony, the court determined the government controlled work and work assignments such that it qualified as a "special employer" barring Al-Khazraji from seeking further compensation from the government. The court determined that the preponderance of evidence did not support Al-Khazraji's conclusory assertions that he never received direction, control or supervision from the government's personnel at Fort Dix.

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