TODAY - Panel:
Kiobel: The Uncertain Future of Alien Tort Statute Litigation
Presented by the The International Law Section of the Barristers Club: December 17, 2010
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm / MCLE Credits - 1 H (Event flyer)
In September the Second Circuit held that the Alien Tort Statute ("ATS") does not confer jurisdiction over claims against corporations. Plaintiffs sued sued Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, among others, alleging that they aided and abetted the Nigerian dictatorship’s suppression of protests against oil exploration/development in the Niger Delta. Without reaching the merits, the majority of a divided Second Circuit panel dismissed plaintiffs claims, holding that the Court lacked jurisdiction because claims against corporations are not cognizable under the ATS. While concurring in the judgment on other grounds, Judge Leval vigorously dissented from the majority's holding regarding corporate liability. This case has attracted much attention because it has profound implications for the future of ATS litigation. Claims against corporations have been at the center of ATS litigation for the past fifteen years. However, Kiobel was the first Court of Appeals decision to substantively analyze whether such claims are cognizable. If the panel's decision stands, corporations will no longer be subject to suit under the ATS in the Second Circuit, or in any circuit that adopts its reasoning. Thus, the stakes in Kiobel are enormous. The plaintiffs have already filed a petition for rehearing en banc, and whatever the ultimate outcome in the Second Circuit, one party or the other will almost certainly seek Supreme Court review.
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