U.S. Court: Alien Tort Statute/Torture Victim Protection Act




CJA sought to hold Juan López Grijalba accountable for his actions in Honduras by using two federal statutes, the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which allow for civil suits in U.S. courts to remedy a limited set of human rights violations.

In July 2002, CJA filed a civil case in the United States against Juan López Grijalba, who then lived in the Miami area, on behalf of six torture survivors and families of the disappeared. Shortly before the filing of the complaint, in April 2002, Grijalba was arrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and ordered deported to Honduras in October 2004.

On March 16, 2006, CJA and pro bono co-counsel Carlton Fields presented evidence in a damages trial before U.S. District Court Judge Lenard. CJA clients Oscar and Gloria Reyes gave extensive testimony about their torture and prolonged arbitrary detention. On March 31, 2006, CJA received a default judgment in its U.S. civil suit against López Grijalba.  In her written opinion, Judge Lenard held López Grijalba legally responsible under the command responsibility doctrine for torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Honduras, stating that his conduct was “highly egregious.” The court ordered López Grijalba to pay $47 million to our six plaintiffs. CJA believes López Grijalba remains in Honduras following his deportation in 2004.