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Supreme Court refuses to hear Alan Gross appeal alleging U.S. government negligence

In this file photo provided by U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal, jailed American Alan Gross poses for a photo during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and Berenthal at Finlay military hospital in Havana, Cuba.

In this file photo provided by U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal, jailed American Alan Gross poses for a photo during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and Berenthal at Finlay military hospital in Havana, Cuba.  (AP)

A former U.S. subcontractor who was freed from a Cuban jail last year after five years of detention was denied Monday a Supreme Court hearing for an appeal on his lawsuit alleging the U.S. government sent him on semi-covert trips to Cuba without sufficient training or preparation for working in the Communist country.

The justices let stand a federal appeals court ruling that threw out Alan Gross' $60 million lawsuit blaming the federal government for failing to prepare him for the risks of working in Cuba.

Gross' attorney, Scott Gilbert, said to Fox News Latino in a statement: "We are certainly disappointed but not surprised by the court’s decision."

Gross was freed in December as the U.S. announced it would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. He was working as a U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor in Cuba when he was arrested in 2009.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled last year that the U.S. government is immune from claims arising in a foreign country.

In a separate case, Gross received $3.2 million in December from the federal government as part of a settlement with the Maryland-based company he worked for at the time of his arrest.

The USAID said it paid Gross to settle claims pending before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals for unanticipated claims under a cost-reimbursement contract with Development Alternatives Inc. of Bethesda, Maryland.

The USAID said the settlement was not an admission of liability, but was intended to avoid the costs and risks of further legal proceedings.

In a 2013 New York Times story, Gross' lawsuit was described as one that "led to the disclosure of some potentially embarrassing details for DAI and the State Department, highlighting the frequent haste and lack of attention to the risks of the State Department programs in Cuba."

To American officials, the Times said, projects such as those in which Gross worked are efforts to fuel democracy, but Cubans view them as intrusive and undermining.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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