Vance v. Rumsfeld

Federal 7th Circuit Court
Civil Court
Qualified Immunity
Case Number: 
Nos. 10-1687 & 10-2442 Cons.
Decision Date: 
November 7, 2012
Federal District: 
N.D. Ill., E. Div.
In action alleging that defendants-U.S. Secretary of Defense (Rumsfeld) and others were personally liable for authorizing use in Iraq of harsh interrogation methods on plaintiffs, who had been accused of being enemy combatants, Dist. Ct. erred in denying defendant-Rumsfeld’s motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. Although plaintiffs were eventually released from custody and were found to be innocent of being enemy combatants by Detainee Status Board, federal law does not establish non-statutory, common law cause of action for damages against persons in military chain of command who either abusively interrogate or mistreat military persons or who fail to prevent improper detention and interrogation. Ct. further found that any lawsuit against Rumsfeld would be improper since: (1) there were no allegations that Rumsfeld personally participated in any alleged wrongful conduct; and (2) any knowledge of subordinates’ misconduct is insufficient to establish liability. (Dissent filed.)