Monday, June 21, 2021

Supreme Court rules that Alien Tort Statute can't be used against defendants for conduct that happens overseas

Long time readers of this blog know I have followed the cases on the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) for some time.  For my posts on this topic, go here and scroll down.

The last time I posted something about the ATS was back in November of 2019, when I reported on a case against Nestle and Cargill alleging that the defendants aided and abetted in human rights violations by farmers in the Ivory Coast.  Back then the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a lawsuit filed by citizens of Mali who, as children, worked on Ivory Coast cocoa farms should be permitted to go forward under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS).  You can read that post here.

That case was appealed to the Supreme Court and the Court issued its opinion just a few days ago reversing the Circuit Court, by a vote of 8-1, because the lawsuit was based on conduct that occurred overseas. 

Evidently, the decision was a victory for the defendants, but it was not what the business community and the Washington Legal Foundation really wanted because the opinion left open for another day the question of whether the federal law at the heart of the case allows lawsuits against U.S. corporations to begin with.  (I comment on the WLF position in my post linked above.)  

You can read more about the case and the Court's opinion on the SCOTUS blogPolitico, and Howe on the Court.

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