United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
L. TOWNES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
brought this putative class action against the United Nations
("UN"), the United Nations Stabilization Mission in
Haiti ("MINUSTAH"), and six current or former UN
officials, seeking redress for injuries and death that
resulted from an outbreak of cholera in Haiti in 2010.
Defendants allegedly caused the outbreak by deploying
cholera-infected UN peacekeeping troops to Haiti. Because
defendants enjoy immunity from suit and because they have not
waived that immunity here, the Court dismisses this action
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Marie, Maggie, Sane, and Carmen Laventure are citizens of the
United States or Haiti who reside in Queens, New York or
Atlanta, Georgia. Second Amended Complaint dated June 23,
2017, Dkt. No. 20 ("2d Am. Compl."), ¶¶
19-22. Plaintiffs' father (Cherylusse
Laventure) and stepmother (Marie Ttherese Fleuriciahe
Delinais) died after contracting cholera in Haiti during the
fall of 2012. Id. ¶¶ 214-23. Plaintiffs
purport to sue on behalf of themselves, the estates of their
deceased parents, and all others similarly situated.
UN is an international organization founded in 1945 and
headquartered in New York City. Id. ¶ 26. The
UN's functions include "'maintain[ing]
international peace and security"' and
"'promot[ing] and encourage[ing] respect for human
rights.5" Id. (first alteration in original).
Defendant MINUSTAH, a "subsidiary organ of the UN"
based in Port-au-Prince, was established in 2004 to
"enhance stability . .., promote democracy and rule of
law, and support the Haitian government as well as Haitian
human rights institutions and groups." Id.
¶¶ 27, 62. MINUSTAH's operations in Haiti are
governed in part by a Status of Forces Agreement
("SOFA") which was executed between the UN and the
Haitian government in July 2004. Id. ¶¶
Ban Ki-moon was, at all relevant times, the Secretary-General
of the UN. Id. ¶ 28. The other individual
defendants, Edmond Mulet, Chandra Srivastava, Paul
Aghadjanian, Pedro Medrano, and Miguel de Serpa Soares, held
various positions at the UN that involved the
organization's activities in Haiti during the relevant
period. Id. ¶¶ 29-34.
October 9 and 16, 2010, defendants UN and MINUSTAH deployed
1, 075 Nepalese peacekeeping troops to Haiti. Id.
¶ 73. Before their deployment, these troops received
three months of training near the Kathmandu Valley-an area of
Nepal that had experienced a widely reported cholera
outbreak. Id. ¶¶ 74-75. In Haiti, the
troops were stationed at a base near water banks that
connected to the Artibonite River, a primary source of water
for tens of thousands of Haitians. Id. ¶ 11.
Untreated human waste from the base seeped into the water
banks, which resulted in an outbreak of cholera along the
Artibonite River and eventually throughout the country.
Id. ¶¶ 11, 13.
the arrival of the Nepalese troops in October 2010, Haiti had
no reported cases of cholera. Id. ¶ 8. Between
October 2010 and May 2011, more than 4, 500 Haitians died
from the disease. Id. ¶ 163. The death toll has
now surpassed 9, 000. Id. ¶¶ 2, 42.
Cherylusse Laventure and Marie Ttherese Fleuriciane Delinais,
the father and stepmother of the named plaintiffs, are among
the victims. Id. ¶¶ 19-23.
UN and MINUSTAH failed to test the Nepalese troops for
cholera before their deployment. Id. ¶ 78. In
March 2012, authors of a peer-reviewed study concluded that
all evidence "point[ed] to Nepalese UN peacekeepers as
the initial source of cholera in Haiti." Id.
¶ 182. On December 1, 2016, defendant and
then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that, on behalf of
the UN, he was "'profoundly sorry'" for the
organization's role in Haiti's cholera epidemic and
that it had a "'moral responsibility' to make
things right." Id. ¶ 17.
on defendants' actions, plaintiffs assert claims of
negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, wrongful death,
negligent supervision, negligent and intentional inflection
of emotional distress, nuisance, and breach of contract.
Id. ¶¶ 228-89. As an alternative to
damages, plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment stating,
among other things, that "the UN is required by law to
establish a standing claims commission for Haiti, to process
the Plaintiff class's third-party claims for property
loss or damage and personal injury, illness or death arising
from or directly attributed to MINUSTAH and its wrongful
acts." Id. ¶ 298.