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Bancoult v. McNamara

September 30, 2003

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



Document Nos.: 61, 63, 66, 70,: 77, 92

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS TO PERMIT DISCOVERY; DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS FOR ENLARGEMENT OF TIME; SETTING A REVISED BRIEFING SCHEDULE

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the plaintiffs' motions to permit discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) and for enlargements of time to respond to the motions to dismiss and for summary judgment filed by defendants Halliburton Company ("Halliburton") and Brown & Root, Inc. ("Brown & Root") (collectively,"the defendants"). The plaintiffs are persons indigenous to the Chagos Archipelago ("Chagos"), their survivors or direct descendants, or organizations interested in the betterment of the Chagossian community. They bring this class action against the United States, several current and former federal officials, and the defendants for forced relocation, torture, racial discrimination, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, genocide, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and trespass. Because the plaintiffs have not met their burden of showing a reasonable basis to suggest that discovery would reveal triable issues of fact, the court denies the plaintiffs' motions to permit discovery, denies the plaintiffs' motions for enlargement of time, and sets a revised briefing schedule.

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. Am. 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, in 1965, the British government detached Chagos from Mauritius and incorporated the archipelago in a newly created British Indian Ocean Territory ("BIOT"). Id. ¶ 9. Between 1965 and 1973, the Chagos population was removed to Mauritius and Seychelles. Id. ¶¶ 21-23. Subsequently, in 1981, the United States Navy entered into a contract ("the Navy contract") with Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, to construct the proposed U.S. facility on Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos islands. Id. ¶¶ 25, 48, 48.1.

B. Procedural History

On December 20, 2001, the plaintiffs filed a complaint against the United States, the federal officials, Halliburton, and Mauritian company De Chazal Du Mée & Cie ("DCDM"). The United States, the federal officials, and DCDM responded by filing motions to dismiss, while Halliburton responded with a motion to dismiss and for summary judgment.

On February 14, 2002, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to bar the 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. Bancoult v. McNamara, 227 F. Supp. 2d 144 (D.D.C. 2002).

On November 12, 2002, the plaintiffs moved for leave to amend their complaint to reinstate DCDM and add Brown & Root as defendants. On March 10, 2003, the court issued a memorandum opinion granting the plaintiffs leave to amend with regard to the United States, the federal officials, and the defendants, and denying the plaintiffs' motion to amend with regard to DCDM.*fn1 Bancoult v. McNamara, 214 F.R.D. 5 (D.D.C. 2003).

In response to the plaintiffs' amended complaint, Halliburton renewed its motion to dismiss and for summary judgment, and Brown & Root filed a similar motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. The plaintiffs responded with motions to permit discovery pursuant to Rule 56(f) and for enlargements of time to respond to the defendants' respective motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.*f ...


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