Attorneys acting for James Murray and Ruth Gould, who are engaged, filed a $101 million lawsuit in a New York federal court last September.
The suit, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, names as defendants Northrop Grumman Information Technology Inc. and its immediate parent company, Logicon, Inc.
The suit on behalf of the couple, who are in the U.S. as a result of the Walsh visa program, accuses Northrop/Logicon, collectively Northrop, of negligence, causing personal injuries and breach of contract.
The Brooklyn court has rejected an attempt by Northrop to have the case transferred to Virginia, where the company is headquartered, Eamonn Dornan, attorney for Murray and Gould, said this week.
Dornan said that the attempt to have the case transferred did not come in the form of a formal motion. Rather, he said, it was by a request to the presiding judge in the case.
Dornan said that he and his clients are happy with the decision to keep the case in Brooklyn.
“A Brooklyn jury will be more beneficial,” he said.
Dornan said that he is expecting a formal legal reply from Northrop to the $101 million suit and that there would be a hearing before a magistrate on Dec. 5 to work out details of a trial schedule.
According to court papers filed on Murray and Gould’s behalf with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Murray and Gould were “arrested, jailed and traumatized after being subjected to wildly false suggestions made to the United States government that, inter alia, they might be involved in hatching a Middle East-inspired terrorist plot against the United States.”
In addition to naming Northrop, the suit also names Murray and Gould’s former employer in Las Vegas, Steve Smith. It alleges that in preparation for its false report to the government, Northrop had invited Smith, described in the suit as a “serial felon,” to put in writing several “malicious, retaliatory and inane statements that he had made to Northrop concerning Murray and Gould.”
Smith was convicted in a Las Vegas court earlier this year of abducting a prostitute. He has also been the subject of separate investigations by law enforcement authorities in the Nevada city.
Murray and Gould, who have been granted a stay of deportation by a Las Vegas immigration judge, are now potential witnesses in the Las Vegas investigation of Smith. In that context, they have been allowed remain in the U.S. despite having been designated by Northrop as being out of status with regard to the Walsh visa program.
At the same time, they are having to fly back to Las Vegas this week in an effort to have their special crime victim “U” Visas extended by the immigration judge. They have been living on Long Island in recent months.
Murray and Gould traveled to Las Vegas in the fall of 2001 to work for Smith’s hang-gliding company. The relationship with Smith turned sour when he failed to pay them for their work and Murray complained to Logicon, which is charged by the U.S. State Department with the task of assigning Walsh visa recipients to their jobs around the U.S.
The suit, filed by the law firm of Smith, Dornan and Shea, states that Smith’s statements included “bizarre and unfounded suggestions” that the plaintiffs had expressed a desire to open a business in Yemen, had expressed views opposing United States policy and had never actually worked for Smith’s company, Las Vegas Airsports.
The suit accuses Northrop of not dismissing Smith’s unsupported insinuations as “malicious, fantastic or ridiculous,” or of investigating them. Rather, it alleged, Northrop had “initiated a man hunt and ultimately arranged for the arrest, detention and unlawful incarceration of Murray and Gould by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The suit states that Northrop, the appointed administrator of the Walsh visa program, was under a statutory duty to care for Murray and Gould. It alleges that Northrop failed to honor its statutory obligation to investigate the bona fides of Smith or his “outlandish” allegations.
The suit further states: “When the insinuations of terrorist activity were quickly found to be entirely without merit, Northrop, rather than correcting the very serious and damaging assertions it made to the INS and the Department of State, instead continued to propound Smith’s other false charges, resulting in the Plaintiffs’ impending deportation.
“In so doing,” the suit alleges, “Northrop, which had brought the Plaintiffs to the United States under the promise of a glimpse of the America dream, instead delivered them into a nightmare.”
The suit, which specifically demands a jury trial, is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $1 million and punitive or exemplary damages in excess of $100 million.