It has been more than a year since I have posted anything related to the Alien Tort Statute because, well, with the US Supreme Court decision in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum the court pretty much made the statute irrelevant. Back then, in a long series of posts, I wrote that I was surprised the court decided the case on the issue of extraterritoriality, when the real issue was whether the statute could be used against corporations. For all the background stories, go to the Alien Tort Statute section of the blog here.
Now it appears that, just to keep things interesting, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has opened the door for another round of debates over the use of the statute against corporations.
As reported by the ABA Journal online, the court of appeals issued an opinion last Thursday holding that corporations, and not just state actors, can face liability for violations of universal norms under the Alien Tort Statute. You can find the opinion here.
The case involves a complaint filed against Nestle, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill by former child slaves who claim the three corporations aided Ivory Coast cocoa farmers who kept children in captivity.
It is not clear why the case should not be dismissed given the Supreme Court's opinion in Kiobel. The Court of Appeals simply said it would give the plaintiffs the opportunity to amend their complaint in light of Kiobel.