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Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (U.S. Sup. Ct.)

  • Chimène I. Keitner (a1)

Extract

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum is the United States Supreme Court’s second decision interpreting the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. § 1350, which was enacted by the First Congress as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789. The ATS provides that federal district courts “shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” Absent the ATS, such claims could only be brought in state, not federal, courts.

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1 Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004).

2 28 U.S.C. § 2680(k).

3 Reply Brief of the United States as Respondent Supporting Petitioner, Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004) (No. 03-339), 2004 WL 577654, at *19; see also Brief for the United States as Respondent Supporting Petitioner, Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004) (No. 03-339), 2004 WL 182581, at *8-9, *46-49.

4 Sosa, 542 U.S. at 732.

5 Id. at 734-36.

6 Id. at 762 (Breyer, J., concurring).

7 Id. at 739-51.

8 See Chimène, I. Keitner, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum: Another Round in the Fight Against Corporate Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute, ASIL Insights (Sept. 30, 2013), http://www.asil.org/insights100930.cfm.

9 See Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 621 F.3d 111 (2d Cir. 2010).

10 See Chimène, I. Keitner, The Reargument Order in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Its Potential Implications for Transnational Human Rights Cases , ASIL Insights (Mar. 21, 2012), http://www.asil.org/insights120321.cfm.

11 Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 133 S. Ct. 1659 (2013).

12 Id. at 1665.

13 Id. at 1664 (“[T]he principles underlying [the presumption against extraterritoriality] constrain courts considering causes of action that may be brought under the ATS.”). In Kiobel, the United States Government took a less categorical position on extraterritoriality than it had in Sosa, arguing that “the question whether a court should fashion a federal common-law cause of action under the ATS for a violation of the law of nations occurring in the territory of a foreign sovereign calls for an assessment of a variety of factors and does not necessarily lead to one uniform conclusion.” Supplemental Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae in Partial Support of Affirmance, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 133 S. Ct. 1659 (2013) (No. 10-1491), 2012 WL 2161290 at *6.

14 Kiobel, 133 S. Ct. at 1664.

15 Id. at 1669.

16 Id. (Kennedy, J., concurring).

17 28 U.S.C. § 1350 note (providing a cause of action against natural persons for torture and extrajudicial killing committed under color of foreign law).

18 Kiobel, 133 S. Ct. at 1670 (Scalia, J., concurring).

19 Id. (Breyer, J., concurring).

20 Id. at 1671 (Breyer, J., concurring).

21 See, e.g., Balintulo v. Daimler AG (2d Cir. 2013), http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca2/09-2778/09-2778-2013-08-21.pdf (vacating stay and recommending dismissal of claims against corporations for aiding and abetting customary international law violations by the South African government on the grounds that Kiobel precludes recognizing causes of action under the ATS for conduct occurring in another country); Giraldo v. Drummond Co. (N.D. Ala. 2013), http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-alnd-2_09-cv-01041/pdf/USCOURTS-alnd-2_09-cv-01041-11.pdf (dismissing ATS claims for extraterritorial torts following Kiobel).

22 See, e.g.,Mwaniv. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (D.D.C. 2013), http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-dcd-1_99-cv-00125/pdf/USCOURTS-dcd-1_99-cv-00125-3.pdf (finding that Kiobel does not preclude ATS claims brought by foreign plaintiffs against a foreign group for the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, based on the “touch and concern” test, and certifying the issue for immediate appeal given the possibility of “substantial difference of opinion among judges” in interpreting and applying Kiobel); Ahmed v. Magan (S.D. Ohio 2013), http://cja.live2.radicaldesigns.org/downloads/Ahmed%20v.pdf (finding that the presumption against extraterritoriality is overcome when the defendant is a permanent resident of the United States at the time of suit).

23 See Michael, D. Goldhaber, Corporate Human Rights Litigation in Non-U.S. Courts: A Comparative Scorecard , 3 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 127 (2013) (discussing claims against corporations in particular).

24 Kiobel, 133 S. Ct. at 1668.

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