CASE COMMENT: INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS - Corporate Liability Claims not Actionable under the Alien Tort Statute - Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 621 F.3d 111 (2d Cir. 2010). Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2011 Suffolk University
Suffolk Transnational Law Review

CASE COMMENT: INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS - Corporate Liability Claims not Actionable under the Alien Tort Statute - Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 621 F.3d 111 (2d Cir. 2010).

Winter, 2011

Suffolk Transnational Law Review

34 Suffolk Transnat'l L. Rev. 263

Author

Colin Kearney

Excerpt



The horrific suffering engendered by the early 20th century's economic and political nationalism gave rise to the precept of individual responsibility for gross violations of human rights. 1 In the United States, the Alien Tort Statute 2 (ATS) confers federal subject matter jurisdiction for such violations, granting a cause of action for torts committed in "violation of the law of nations." 3 In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 4 the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit considered whether the ATS confers federal jurisdiction over tort claims against corporations. 5 The court refused to classify corporate liability as a norm of customary international law, and held that tort actions against corporations are not actionable under the ATS. 6

The plaintiffs are current and former residents of the Ogoni Region of Nigeria. 7 The defendants are multi-national petroleum companies engaged in exploration, production, and distribution of oil. 8 The plaintiffs allege that Royal Dutch and Shell compelled their Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), to enlist the aid of Nigerian military forces to brutally crush indigenous resistance to SPDC's oil exploration and production. 9

The plaintiffs filed a class action suit under the ATS in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that the defendants aided and abetted, and were complicit in, violations of international law. 10 The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. ...
 
 
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