U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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Eleventh Circuit addresses aiding-and-abetting liability lawsuits under the Ailen Tort Statute (ATS)

August 11, 2009

The Eleventh Circuit made it easier for companies to dismiss at the pleading stage aiding-and-abetting lawsuits brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). According to the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion, never in this litigation did the plaintiffs allege that any of the corporate defendants committed or caused any of the alleged violent acts. The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs failed to show in their pleadings that there was plausible state action to implicate international law.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

July 10, 2008

Urging affirmance of the district court’s judgment, NCLC filed a brief with the Eleventh Circuit reminding the court that neither the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) nor governing Supreme Court precedent supports aiding and abetting liability for private businesses where a foreign government has acted in violation of international law. The ATS is an obscure law passed by Congress in 1789 that allows foreign plaintiffs to bring lawsuits in American courts for offenses in violation of the “laws of nations.” In this case, Colombian plaintiffs claim that Coca-Cola and other companies should be liable for the violent acts allegedly committed against the plaintiffs by Colombian police and paramilitary forces during a period of civil unrest in the country. In its brief, NCLC highlighted the negative impact an adverse decision would have on U.S. investment abroad and on the role of the political branches to manage foreign affairs.

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