Vance v. Rumsfeld, No. 10-1687 (7th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
American citizen-civilians alleged that they were detained and illegally tortured by U.S. military personnel while in Iraq in 2006 and released from military custody without being charged with a crime. At the time they worked for a privately-owned Iraqi security services company. Plaintiffs sought damages and brought a claim to recover personal property that was seized. The district court denied motions to dismiss. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part, holding that plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts supporting Secretary Rumsfeld's personal responsibility for the alleged torture and that he is not entitled to qualified immunity on the pleadings. The law was clearly established in 2006 that the alleged treatment was unconstitutional. No reasonable public official could have believed otherwise. A "Bivens" remedy is available for alleged torture of civilian U.S. citizens by U.S. military personnel in a war zone. The court noted that U.S. law provides a civil remedy for aliens who are tortured by their own governments. Claims by aliens, alleging torture by U.S. officials, are distinguishable. The Administrative Procedure Act's "military authority" exception precludes judicial review of military actions affecting personal property in a war zone.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on November 7, 2012.