Plaintiff’s Assault Lawsuit Dismissed Because the DBA Was His Exclusive Remedy

Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia alleging that his supervisor assaulted him while they were both working for a Defense Contractor at Camp Speicher in Iraq.  Plaintiff attempted to hold his employer liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress and for failing to provide timely medical care after the assault.  The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, determining that Plaintiff’s remedy was found in the Defense Base Act “DBA,” and not in a tort suit.  As stated by the court (with internal citations omitted):

The assault at issue in this case occurred while Mason was working at Camp Speicher, a U.S. military base that was captured during the Iraq war. Thus, the DBA applies and provides Mason’s exclusive remedy against Sallyport as long as the assault at issue falls within the DBA’s definition of “injury.” Mason contends that it does not, because Edge intentionally injured him and Edge’s actions, under the facts alleged, are not those of a “third party,” but rather are imputed to Sallyport, both because Edge was Mason’s supervisor at the time of the attack and because Sallyport was on notice of Edge’s disposition for violence when it hired him. Under this reading of the complaint, Mason claims his injuries as a result of Edge’s assault fall within the exception that applies when an employer acts with specific intent to injure its employee.

The Court finds this argument unpersuasive. The exception Mason cites applies only where the employer itself specifically intends the injury; it is not sufficient that an employee, even one in a supervisory role, acts with specific intent to injure.  While Mason alleges that Sallyport was negligent in hiring Edge, he does not allege that Sallyport in any way directed the assault or intended for it to take place. Mason does allege that Sallyport intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him after the attack, but even accepting that such a claim can fall within the exception to the DBA, Mason has failed to allege facts that would make that claim plausible.  The disfavored tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress requires conduct, resulting in severe emotional distress, that is “so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”  Here, there are no facts that would make plausible any characterization of Sallyport’s conduct as meeting that high standard.

For the above reasons, the Court finds and concludes that the DBA provides Mason’s exclusive remedy against Sallyport and that this Court is therefore without jurisdiction to consider Mason’s claims against Sallyport.

Mason v. Sallyport Global Holdings, Inc., No. 1:13-cv-1134, 2013 WL 6504625, — F.Supp.2d —- (E.D. Va. Dec. 9, 2013).