Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lawyer Tries to End Blackwater Suit

Wiley Rein, who - along with former partner Margaret Ryan - is facing a $30 million legal malpractice lawsuit, is seeking to have the case dismissed, the Legal Times reports.

Rein and Ryan defended Blackwater against a 2005 wrongful-death suit, but for some reason did not cite the federal officer removal statute and appropriate case precedent when conducting their defense. Had they done so, the case would have remained in federal court and been thrown out. Instead, Rein and Ryan allegedly mishandled the case, which was remanded to the Superior Court of Wake County in North Carolina and is now in arbitration.

At the heart of Rein's argument is a shaky proposition: that Blackwater's four employees killed in Fallujah, Iraq, were not technically working for the US military - in which case the statute would apply - but for a catering contractor which was working for the US military. It takes some pretty serious mental gymnastics to avoid the common-sense conclusion that coming under fire from insurgents in a city where the US military is conducting active combat operations, while employed for folks working for the military, does not constitute working with the military yourself.

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