On January 24, 2003, CJA filed a civil suit against Colonel Carl Dorélien in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim Prevention Act (TVPA), which allow for civil suits in U.S. courts to remedy a limited set of human rights violations.
On April 21, 2004, the district court dismissed the case, holding that the claims of Lexiuste Cajuste were not filed within the 10-year statute of limitations for ATS claims and that Marie Jean had not exhausted other legal remedies available to her in Haiti.
On December 1, 2005, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed this decision, ruling that the extraordinary circumstances of the 1993-1994 Haitian military dictatorship excused the plaintiffs from timely filing the lawsuit. The Eleventh Circuit also held that the ATS does not require plaintiffs to exhaust local remedies and that the TVPA places the burden on the defendant, not the plaintiff, to prove that remedies remain available in the plaintiff’s home country.
The case went to trial in 2007 and on February 23, 2007, a federal jury in Miami found Dorélien liable for torture, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention and crimes against humanity. He was ordered to pay $4.3 million in damages. On August 16, 2007, after Dorelién failed to challenge the verdict, a final judgment was entered against him.