Second Circuit Holds That Corporations Cannot Be Held Liable For Claims Brought Under The Alien Tort Statute

In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., Nos. 06-4800-CV, 06-4876-CV, 2010 WL 3611392 (2d Cir. Sept. 17, 2010), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed claims by Nigerian citizens against various multinational oil producers under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350 (“ATS”), alleging that the corporate defendants aided and abetted human rights violations by the Nigerian military. The Court held that the ATS does not provide federal subject matter jurisdiction for claims against corporations. In so holding, the Court reasoned that the scope of liability under the ATS is defined by international law, and that international law does not yet recognize the concept of corporate tort liability.

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