U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number


Cert. Denied


Questions Presented

1. Whether the political question doctrine bars state-law tort claims against a battlefield support contractor operating in an active war zone when adjudication of those claims would necessarily require examining sensitive military judgments.

2.  Whether the FTCA’s “combatant-activities exception,” 28 U.S.C. § 2680(j), preempts state-law tort claims against a battlefield support contractor that arise out of the U.S. military’s combatant activities in a theater of combat.

Case Updates

Cert. petition denied

January 20, 2015

U.S. Chamber urges U.S. Supreme Court to examine the limits of state tort law

February 10, 2014

In its brief, the U.S. Chamber asked the Supreme Court to review a decision by the Third Circuit in a state tort case brought against Kellog Brown & Root Services, alleging negligent electrical maintenance in an Iraqi-constructed “hardstand” building that resulted in the unfortunate death of a Special Forces soldier. The case, KBR v. Harris, raises important questions about the extraterritorial reach of state tort law. The brief argues that if state tort law can reach into the battlefield itself, where the Federal Government's interests are at their highest, then there are no meaningful limits on the extraterritorial reach of state tort law. These suits could substantially frustrate international trade and foreign affairs, as each state’s tort laws could be used to impose de facto trade sanctions on businesses for doing business in countries with poor human rights records, or that are otherwise simply dangerous places to do business (e.g. Haiti after the recent earthquake).

The Chamber filed the brief jointly with the International Association of Defense Counsel and the National Foreign Trade Council.

Pratik A. Shah, James E. Tysse, and Matthew Scarola of Akin Gump Hauer & Feld LLP represented the U.S. Chamber as co-counsel to the National Chamber Litigation Center in this case.

Case Documents