Category Archives: Alien Tort Statute

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

It’s Friday iStock_000011057325XSmalland time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: an effort by Twitter to enjoin U.S. Government demands for information regarding a user account critical of the Trump Administration; an announcement that seven telecommunications companies have joined the Global Network Initiative; and a decision by EITI to make project-level payment reporting mandatory.… More

Alien Tort Case Development: The U.S. Supreme Court Will Review the Question of Corporate Liability

On Monday, April 3, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by plaintiffs in Jesner v. Arab Bank, No. 16-499. The case may once and for all determine whether companies are appropriate defendants in cases filed pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”).

The petition was filed after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims in five consolidated cases against Arab Bank,… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

It’s Friday iStock_000011057325XSmalland time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: the European Parliament’s adoption of a new conflict minerals regulation; the French Constitutional Council’s review of the proposed duty of vigilance legislation; the dismissal of the Doe v. Nestle litigation; and the release of a new Corporate Accountability Index by Ranking Digital Rights.… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

It’s Friday iStock_000011057325XSmalland time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: updates on litigation in the Doe v. Nestle case; a private members’ bill in the United Kingdom that would expand the scope of the Modern Slavery Act; and an easing of U.S. sanctions against Sudan.

  • As noted previously,…
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Litigation Update: Plaintiffs Survive Motion to Dismiss in Case Involving Claims of Forced Labor in Corporate Supply Chains

Today, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and therefore a good time to revisit some recent litigation developments. On November 9, a date on which most of the American media was focused on the Presidential election results, there were significant developments in the Keo Ratha v. Phattana Seafood Co. litigation, a case involving allegations of human trafficking in corporate supply chains. The District Court for the Central District of California issued an order that will allow the case to go forward,… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: the GAO’s latest report on the conflict minerals rule; a civil society report on the SEC’s efforts to modernize financial disclosure requirements; and an independent impact assessment of the Better Work Programme.

  • At the end of August, the U.S.…
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Alien Tort Case Development: Plaintiffs Overcome Presumption against Extraterritoriality, but Still No Corporate Liability in the Second Circuit

On August 24, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims in a case filed against Lebanese Canadian Bank pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). Plaintiffs in the case, Licci et al. v. Lebanese Canadian Bank, allege that the bank facilitated rocket attacks in Israel through the provision of a bank account in New York that allowed for wire transfers on behalf of Hezbollah.… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: the release of the third, and likely final, draft of the World Bank’s revised safeguard policies; guidance for management accountants on how to identify human rights-related risks and manage human rights performance; and developments in a major Alien Tort Statute case.

  • On July 20,…
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Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: new guidance for boards of directors on business and human rights; the launch of the Responsible Sourcing Tool; the release of the 2016 Global Slavery Index; and a new code of conduct in Europe by which American Internet companies have committed to taking actions to combat illegal hate speech.… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: new private and public initiatives on recruitment fees, including a proposal to further amend the U.S. Government’s Federal Acquisition Regulation to provide a clear definition of such fees; the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse;… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: recent developments with regard to a major Alien Tort Statute case; the announcement of a pilot effort to benchmark corporate human rights performance; and a major new report demonstrating the potential links between anti-corruption compliance programs and effort to eradicate labor trafficking in corporate supply chains.… More

Alien Tort Case Development: Still No Corporate Liability in the Second Circuit (At Least for Now)

Alien Tort GavelOn December 8, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims in five consolidated cases against Arab Bank, PLC. Plaintiffs in each of the cases alleged that they, or their family members, had been harmed in attacks by terrorist organizations that had received financing, in part, as a result of accounts and transfers arranged by the bank.

Claims in the consolidated cases, … More

Alien Tort Case Development: Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against Ford and IBM

Alien Tort Gavel

Earlier this week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision in In re: South African Apartheid Litigation dismissing claims brought pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) against Ford and IBM. Plaintiffs had alleged that the companies aided and abetted tortious conduct by South Africa’s apartheid regime.

The Court observed that the “focus” of the necessary inquiry as to whether plaintiffs’… More

Alien Tort Case Development: Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against Occidental Petroleum

Alien Tort GavelIn mid-December, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of claims filed pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) against Occidental Petroleum. Plaintiffs in the case argued that Occidental should be held liable for the deaths of three union leaders in Colombia who were killed by the Colombian National Army’s 18th Brigade in 2004. The court affirmed the lower court’s finding that the case raised non-justiciable political questions.… More

Alien Tort Case Development: Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against Occidental Petroleum and AirScan

Alien Tort GavelOn November 12, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of claims filed pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) against Occidental Petroleum and AirScan. The case, Mujica v. AirScan, involves claims by Colombian plaintiffs alleging that the companies were complicit in a 1998 bombing of a Colombian village by the Colombian Air Force. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiffs’ claims did not rebut the presumption against extraterritorial application of ATS that has served as a significant obstacle for plaintiffs in ATS cases ever since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Kiobel v.… More

Alien Tort Case Development: The Second Circuit Assesses the Appropriate Focus of Jurisdictional Inquiries

Alien Tort GavelOn October 23, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., a case filed against Chevron Corp. and BNP Paribas pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). The court upheld the District Court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint. In upholding the dismissal, the court held that the “focus” of the jurisdictional inquiry in ATS cases must be the specific conduct that allegedly violated the law of nations and where that conduct occurred.… More

Alien Tort Case Development: Litigation Against Exxon Mobil Corporation May Proceed

Alien Tort GavelIn late September, the District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that two closely related cases filed against Exxon Mobil Corporation, and several of the company’s subsidiaries, could proceed. Plaintiffs in both cases, Doe I v. Exxon Mobil and Doe VIII v. Exxon Mobil, allege that the company is liable for human rights abuses committed by members of the Indonesian military who had been engaged to provide security for the company’s operations in Indonesia.… More

Alien Tort Case Developments: Fourth and Eleventh Circuits Apply Kiobel’s “Touch and Concern” Standard

In the lastAlien Tort Gavel month, two federal appellate courts have issued decisions in cases filed against U.S.-based corporations pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). Both courts applied the “touch and concern” standard established by the Supreme Court in its 2013 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum with one court finding that jurisdiction was proper and the other court finding that “there is no jurisdiction” because all relevant conduct took place outside the United States.… More

Daimler AG v. Bauman: In Latest ATS Decision, the Supreme Court Limits Jurisdiction of U.S. Courts over Multinational Corporations

Supreme CourtA sweeping decision by the Supreme Court on January 14 has further restricted the circumstances under which plaintiffs may sue multinational corporations in U.S. courts for harms occurring outside the United States.

In Daimler AG v. Bauman, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected an attempt by twenty-two Argentinian plaintiffs to sue the German automaker in California for the alleged role of its Argentinian subsidiary in the deaths,… More

ATS Case Developments Post-Kiobel: Interpreting the “Touch and Concern” Standard

gavelThe past few months have seen a few interesting developments in cases in which Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) claims factor prominently. This judicial activity, much of which focuses on the significance of the presumption against extraterritoriality as applied to the ATS, is illustrative of some of the key questions that will inevitably arise as courts work to interpret and apply the Supreme Court’s holding in Kiobel v.… More

What Might Liability under the ATS Look Like Post-Kiobel?: The Example of Private Contractors

SecurityFollowing the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum a number of questions remain as to whether corporations may be held liable under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) for serious violations of human rights.  The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts, held that the presumption against extraterritorial application of federal statutes applies to the ATS,… More

The ATS’s Second Act: The Supreme Court Looks to Address the Unanswered Questions of Kiobel

Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court granted cert on April 22 in two important cases for the future application of the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) following its decision last week in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

As discussed in last week’s post, in Kiobel, the Supreme Court offered  little guidance to litigants regarding what facts and circumstances would be sufficient to overcome the presumption against extraterritoriality in ATS cases.… More

Supreme Court Holds that Plaintiffs Must Overcome Presumption Against Extraterritoriality in Alien Tort Statute Cases

Supreme CourtEarlier today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, the case that was to decide whether the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) could be applied to corporations as legal persons and whether such lawsuits could be based on actions that occurred outside of the territory of the United States. The Court did not directly address the question of corporate liability and stated that,… More

Looking Ahead: Five Developments We’ll be Watching in 2013

As memories of New Year’s Eve fade, and another Inauguration Day winds down in Washington, D.C., it’s time to look ahead and identify key events and emerging trends that we think will help shape the business and human rights agenda in 2013.

Here are five developments that we’ll be watching closely:

Further integration of human rights considerations into business management systems. Eighteen months after the release of the U.N.… More

The Future of the Alien Tort Statute, Take II: The U.S. Supreme Court Hears New Arguments on Extraterritorial Liability

iStock_000015258115XSmall(5)The U.S. Supreme Court started its new term on Monday with a holdover from the last term. The case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum was once again before the Court, this time with arguments focused on the question of whether the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) provides federal jurisdiction for tortious actions committed outside the territory of the United States by corporations.… More

Obama Administration Calls for Significant Restrictions on the Application of the Alien Tort Statute

The Obama Administration has filed a supplemental amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum arguing for significant limitations on the application of the Alien Tort Statute ("ATS") to conduct outside the United States. 

In its March order scheduling Kiobel for rehearing, the Supreme Court directed the parties to focus a new round of briefs on the following question:

Whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute,… More

U.S. Supreme Court Holds that the TVPA Does Not Apply to Organizations, but Corporate Officers Are Still Fair Game

Renewing speculation about the future of corporate liability for human rights abuses, last week the Supreme Court held unanimously in Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority that the Torture Victims Protection Act (“TVPA") cannot be used to sue organizations, and by extension, corporations. The Court, however, did not limit the type of individuals subject to suit under the Act, thus a corporation’s officers or employees may still find themselves open to suit under the TVPA.… More

Would the End of the Alien Tort Statute Mean an End to Corporate Liability for Human Rights Abuses?

If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down, or severely limits, the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”), what are the implications for plaintiffs and defendants in cases involving violations of international human rights law? The crystal balls were out in Washington recently as scholars and practitioners alike continued to speculate about the future of the ATS following the Supreme Court’s order to rehear arguments in Kiobel v.… More

A Surprise Twist: U.S. Supreme Court Will Rehear Kiobel

On March 5, less than a week after oral arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, the Supreme Court ordered the case "restored to the calendar for reargument."  The Court’s order directed the parties to file new briefs on a calendar running through June 29.  The case will not be decided this term.  

The Court’s order directs the parties to focus their briefs on the following question:

Whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute,… More

U.S. Supreme Court Review of Corporate Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute — An Overview of the Oral Arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

On February 28, in proceedings that were both closely watched and anxiously anticipated, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. For the first time, the question of whether corporations are proper defendants in Alien Tort Statute ("ATS") cases is squarely before the Court.  Petitioners had sought Supreme Court review of a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals finding that corporations are not proper defendants under the ATS.… More

Liability and Immunity for Human Rights Violations: The Impact of Current Legal Developments on Corporate Responsibility

It is likely that the coming year will see a number of legal developments relating to the immunity and liability of corporations, states, and individuals as recognized by U.S. courts.  With an increasing number of suits filed against companies for human rights abuses, the question of whether immunity attaches is of great significance.

Courts inside and outside the United States are weighing questions regarding jurisdiction and immunity,… More

Ninth Circuit Upholds Corporate Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute

Almost one year ago, we wrote about the long history of Sarei v. Rio Tinto, an Alien Tort Statute ("ATS") case filed in 2000 against Rio Tinto Plc involving allegations stemming from the company’s mining operations on the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Last week, on October 25, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims for genocide and war crimes.… More

Seventh Circuit Upholds Corporate Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute

On Monday, July 11, for the second time in four days, a U.S. appellate court issued a decision stating that corporations are proper defendants in cases involving claims under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed plaintiffs’ claims in Flomo v. Firestone, but held that “corporate liability is possible” under the ATS.

In a decision written by Circuit Judge Richard Posner,… More

D.C. Circuit Upholds Corporate Liability under the Alien Tort Statute

On July 8, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit brought against Exxon Mobil Corp. (“ExxonMobil”) by Acehnese villagers, alleging that the company and its Indonesian subsidiary are liable for killings, torture, and other human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military. In a lengthy 2-1 decision, the D.C. Circuit held that companies are proper defendants under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”),… More

District Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Certain Alien Tort Statute Claims Against Chiquita Brands International

On June 3, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida declined to dismiss certain claims brought by Colombian plaintiffs against Chiquita Brands International ("Chiquita") alleging that the company knew, or should have known, that its material support for the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (“AUC”), a paramilitary organization, would lead to the death or torture of their family members. In Re: Chiquita Brands International,… More

Alien Tort Statute Update: Ninth Circuit Revives Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp.

Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a lower court’s decision to dismiss Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. The case involves allegations by residents of Argentina stating that one of DaimlerChrysler’s subsidiaries, Mercedes-Benz Argentina, collaborated with state security forces to kidnap, detain, torture and/or kill plaintiffs or their relatives during Argentina’s "Dirty War."  Plaintiffs have asserted claims under both the Alien Tort Statute ("ATS") and the Torture Victims Protection Act.… More

Alien Tort Statute Update: Pfizer Settles Suit with Nigerian Plaintiffs

Earlier today, the District Court for the Southern District of New York entered an order dismissing, with prejudice, plaintiffs’ claims in Abdullahi v. Pfizer, 01-cv-8118 (S.D.N.Y.). The case involved allegations that Pfizer conducted nonconsensual testing of Trovan, an experimental drug, during a meningitis outbreak in Nigeria in 1996.  Earlier this month, plaintiffs and Pfizer had filed a stipulation of dismissal after the parties reached an agreement to settle all claims.

The Nigerian plaintiffs had originally filed suit in 2001,… More

Podcast on Recent Legal Developments in the Field of Corporate Social Responsibility

Last week, Sarah Altschuller was interviewed on Capital Thinking, an internet radio program on VoiceAmerica Business Network. During the interview, she addressed several recent legal developments in the field of corporate social responsibility, including the Dodd-Frank provisions on conflict minerals and disclosure of payments to governments, as well as the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.… More

Alien Tort Statute Update: Second Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing En Banc in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

On February 4, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied plaintiffs’ petition for a rehearing en banc in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 621 F.3d 111 (2d Cir. 2010).  Plaintiffs filed the petition after the Second Circuit held, in a controversial September 2010 decision, that corporations cannot be properly sued under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) for violations of customary international law.… More

CSR and the Law: Five Big Developments in 2010

Looking back at 2010, there have been a number of significant legal developments in the field of corporate social responsibility.  New federal and state statutes have imposed due diligence requirements on companies with the specific intent of addressing human rights concerns, ranging from forced labor to the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Courts continue to grapple with the potential scope of corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). … More

Ninth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Carijano v. Occidental Petroleum

Early last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals revived a tort case brought by 25 members of the Peruvian Achuar indigenous group and Amazon Watch against Occidental Petroleum ("Occidental").  Plaintiffs allege that the company’s operations in the Peruvian Amazon resulted in severe contamination of the land and rivers in the region and that, as a result, they have suffered adverse health effects and negative impacts on their livelihoods.… More

Ten Years and Counting: Ninth Circuit Refers Sarei v. Rio Tinto to a Mediator

Ten years ago today, plaintiffs filed an Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) suit against Rio Tinto Plc alleging that they were the victims of numerous violations of international law as the result of Rio Tinto’s mining operations on the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.  Almost ten years later, on October 26, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals referred the proposed class action,… More

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, Inc.

Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court issued an order (.pdf) declining to grant a writ of certiorari in response to plaintiffs’ petition, and defendant’s conditional cross-petition, seeking review of the Second Circuit’s decision in Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, Inc., 582 F.3d 244 (2nd Cir. 2009).  The Second Circuit upheld a lower court decision dismissing the case, which involved allegations that Talisman Energy aided and abetted the Sudanese Government in committing human rights abuses in Southern Sudan. … More

The Federal Courts and Corporate Liability under the Alien Tort Statute

After the recent decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum06-4800-cv, 06-4876-cv (2d Cir. September 17, 2010) (.pdf), in which the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that corporations cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) for violations of customary international law, it is worth reviewing statements made by courts in other circuits with regard to corporate liability under the ATS.

As is reflected in the summaries below,… More

Second Circuit Holds that Corporations are not Proper Defendants under the Alien Tort Statute

On September 17, in a controversial opinion, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum that corporations cannot be properly sued under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) for violations of customary international law.  The case is one of a series of cases arising from claims that Royal Dutch Petroleum was complicit in human rights abuses against the Ogoni people in Nigeria. … More

Bowoto v. Chevron: Appellate Court Upholds Jury Verdict

On September 10, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict in favor of Chevron Corporation (.pdf) in a case involving plaintiff allegations that Chevron was complicit in human rights abuses committed by Nigerian security forces in 1998.  Plaintiffs brought claims under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (“TVPA”).

The primary events at issue in the litigation took place at an offshore platform belonging to Chevron’s Nigerian subsidiary. … More

Iranian Journalist Files Alien Tort Statute Lawsuit against Nokia Siemens Networks

Isa Saharkhiz, an Iranian journalist who has been in detention in Iran since June 2009, and his son, a resident of New Jersey, recently filed suit against Nokia Siemens Networks (“NSN”), a joint venture of Nokia Corporation and Siemens Corporation.  The lawsuit, filed on August 16 in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, includes claims under the Alien Tort Statute ("ATS") and the Torture Victim Protection Act and alleges that NSN aided and abetted the Iranian Government in detaining and torturing Mr.… More

Supreme Court Rejects Pfizer’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari in Alien Tort Statute Case

On June 29th, the United States Supreme Court declined to grant a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by Pfizer Inc. seeking review of a January 2009 decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals involving claims brought under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). The Second Circuit’s decision held that Nigerian plaintiffs could properly bring claims against Pfizer under the ATS for “violation of the norm of customary international law prohibiting medical experimentation on human subjects without their consent.” … More