Alien Tort Statute

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The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) grants U.S. district courts jurisdiction over cases in which an alien sues “for a tort only… in violation of the law of nations or of a treaty of the United States.” In 1980, the Second Circuit’s opinion in Filártiga v. Peña-Irala set new precedent for interpreting the ATS, allowing foreign citizens to use U.S. courts to litigate violations of international law that occurred outside the United States. The statute quickly became a tool of those seeking relief for human rights violations. While its scope was restricted by a 2013 Supreme Court decision limiting its application in cases with a minimal connection to the United States, the ATS’ scope and meaning remain a contentious topic with far-reaching implications.

Latest in Alien Tort Statute

Alien Tort Statute

The Alien Tort Statute and the Morrison “Focus” Test: Still Disagreement After RJR Nabisco

Last month, the Fifth Circuit issued a split opinion in Adhikari v. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., representing the first ATS case to be decided post-RJR Nabisco.  The opinion, issued over a vigorous dissent, suggests that it may be premature to say that RJR Nabisco resolves the circuit split over the interpretation of “touch and concern.”

Alien Tort Statute

Warfaa v. Ali: Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Somali’s Alien Tort Statute Claims

The Fourth Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of Alien Tort Statute claims against a former Colonel in the Somali National Army by a member of clan persecuted by the Barre regime who he detained, interrogated, tortured, shot, and left for dead.

Alien Tort Statute

Corporate Liability and the ATS: Arab Bank Appeal Continues to Define Kiobel Legacy

At a time of heightened concern over a new wave of terrorism financing threats, the decade-long Arab Bank terrorism financing litigation took another turn this week when the Second Circuit denied several thousand terrorism victims the right to pursue claims against the Jordan-based Arab Bank PLC in U.S. federal court.

Alien Tort Statute: Litigation

Judge Scheindlin Dismisses Remaining ATS Claims Against Ford and IBM in Long-running Apartheid Litigation

As Lawfare readers may have seen from press reports, on Thursday, SDNY Judge Shira Scheindlin dismissed the Alien Tort Statute suit against Ford Motor Company and IBM in connection with their business activities in Apartheid-era South Africa, thus ending the granddaddy of all ATS litigation and what may have been the largest, longest-running, and most expensive lawfare battle in history.

India

DC District Court Fails to Recognize Official Acts Immunity for Former Indian Prime Minister

On August 19, Judge Boasberg of the DC District Court ruled that former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh enjoys immunity from suit for alleged human rights abuses of Sikhs in India while he was Prime Minister from 2004 to 2014, based on a Suggestion of Immunity submitted by the Executive branch.

Alien Tort Statute: Litigation

Two New ATS Decisions: Fourth and Eleventh Circuits Split on Whether Claims Against CACI and Chiquita "Touch and Concern" the Territory of the United States

While Lawfare readers have been focused on other parts of the world, federal appellate courts have recently issued two significant, and potentially conflicting (in result, if not reasoning), decisions interpreting the extraterritorial reach of the Alien Tort Statute in light of the Supreme Court’s Kiobel decision.   In June, a Fourth Circuit panel reversed the dismissal of an ATS claim brought against CACI, a U.S.

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