Supreme Court To Revisit Corporate Liability For Human Rights Violations

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Image from a quicklink The case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, involves the Alien Tort Statute, an obscure law enacted in 1789 that allowed non-citizens to bring civil actions in federal courts for violations of international law. Until the 1980s, the ATS saw little usage and even after a significant uptick of litigation since that time, only a dozen or so cases are filed annually under the statute. Of those, about half have targeted corporations for wrongdoing according to EarthRights International, a human rights advocacy organization. Compared to a pair of rulings from last year that made it harder for millions of consumers and employees to bring class actions against corporations, the Kiobel case will affect far fewer companies and potential claimants. Despite the seemingly low stakes, Kiobel represents an opportunity for the Court's conservative majority another legal victory for corporations.

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