In 1997, a man named Carl Dorélien won $3.2 million in the Florida lottery. This man, known in Haiti as Colonel Carl Dorélien, was a prominent leader of Haiti’s brutal military dictatorship that led a campaign of terror in the early 1990s. In 2003, CJA brought a civil case against Dorélien. For masterminding a massacre and other atrocities, a Miami federal jury found Dorélien liable for human rights abuses and ordered him to pay $4.3 million in damages. CJA recovered $580,000 of Dorélien’s remaining lottery winnings, and distributed them to our clients.
In 1991, when a violet coup ousted Haiti’s elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the new leaders launched a campaign of terror. Over the next three years, their armed forces and paramilitary units murdered an estimated 3,000 – 4,000 Aristide supporters.
One of the most prominent coup leaders was Colonel Carl Dorélien. As chief of personnel for the armed forces, he had command responsibility for widespread atrocities, including the 1994 massacre of pro-democracy activists in the seaside town of Raboteau. At least 26 unarmed men, women and children were killed during the two-day rampage.
When Aristide returned to power in 1994, Dorélien fled to the United States.
In 2003, CJA filed a federal lawsuit in Florida against Dorélien on behalf of two survivors: Marie Jeanne Jean, whose husband, Michel Pierre, was killed in the Raboteau massacre, and Lexius Cajuste, who was brutally detained and tortured by Haitian armed forces.
The U.S. government deported Dorélien back to Haiti, where he was detained upon arrival. However, one year later, a coup ousted Aristide for the second time and Dorélien was released from prison. CJA’s quest to bring him to justice continued.
In 2006, CJA secured the recognition by a Florida state court of a 2000 Haitian judgment convicting Dorélien in absentia for the Raboteau massacre and awarding damages to our client, Marie Jeanne Jean.
In 2007, CJA and pro bono co-counsel won a $4.3 million judgment against Dorélien for torture, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention and crimes against humanity.
We successfully recovered $580,000 of Dorélien’s lottery winnings for our clients. They have since distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to fellow survivors of the Raboteau massacre and to support social services to Haitian refugees.