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Bancoult v. McNamara

March 10, 2003

OLIVIER BANCOULT ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROBERT S. MCNAMARA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document Nos. 2, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 30, 45, 52, 59

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT; DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE ALL PENDING MOTIONS PERTAINING TO THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended complaint. The plaintiffs are persons indigenous to the Chagos Archipelago ("Chagos"), their survivors, or their direct descendants. They bring this class action against several defendants - including the United States government, several current and former United States officials, and certain private entities - for forced relocation, torture, racial discrimination, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, genocide, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and trespass. Because the plaintiffs' amendment is of right as to certain defendants, but is futile as to one defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction, the court grants in part and denies in part the plaintiffs' motion to amend their complaint, and denies without prejudice all pending motions pertaining to the original complaint.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Chagos is a grouping of small islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, at least 1,000 miles away from the nearest landmasses of India, Mauritius, Australia, and the Gulf States. Compl. ¶ 10. It includes the islands of Diego Garcia, Peros Banhos, Salomon, and numerous other small islands. Id. ¶ 8. Ceded to the United Kingdom by the French in 1814, Chagos became part of the British colony of Mauritius, and continues under British administration today. Id. ¶¶ 9-10, 18. Its population, which numbered more than 550 in 1861, had grown to approximately 1,000 inhabitants by the 1960s. Id. ¶¶ 8, 10.

In 1964, the British and United States governments entered into negotiations to establish a United States military facility in the Indian Ocean. Id. ¶ 17. One year later, the British detached Chagos from Mauritius and incorporated the archipelago in a newly created British Indian Ocean Territory ("BIOT"). Id. ¶ 9. Subsequently, the Chagos population was removed to Mauritius and Seychelles. Id. ¶¶ 21-23. Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos islands, then became home to the proposed U.S. military facility. Id. ¶ 25.

B. Procedural History

On December 20, 2001, the plaintiffs filed a complaint against the United States government, eight current and former federal officials (collectively, the "federal defendants"), U.S. corporation Halliburton Company, and Mauritian company De Chazal Du Mée & CIE ("DCDM"). Subsequently, the United States, the federal defendants, and DCDM *fn1 responded by filing motions to dismiss, while Halliburton filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

On February 14, 2002, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to bar defendants United States and DCDM from engaging in allegedly discriminatory policies and practices. On September 30, 2002, the court issued a memorandum opinion denying the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, ordering further briefing on the United States' motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and granting DCDM's motion to dismiss for ineffective service of process. *fn2 Mem. Op. dated Sept. 30, 2002.

On November 12, 2002, the plaintiffs moved for leave to amend their complaint to reinstate DCDM and to add Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton as defendant parties. The court now turns to the plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend their complaint.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Grants in Part and Denies in Part the Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave ...


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