Corporate Liability under the Alien Tort Statute
NCLC urged the Seventh Circuit to hold that the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) does not provide jurisdiction for corporate liability. The plaintiffs are attempting to use the ATS to hold a company liable for alleged human rights violations outside the U.S. Under the rules established in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, NCLC argued that plaintiffs must base new ATS claims on universally accepted international law. NCLC canvassed international law and found that no treaty, state practice, or judicial decision supports corporate liability for human rights violations. NCLC warned that ATS litigation discourages overseas business, undermines economic development, and interferes with the U.S. government's foreign relations.
While the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court, holding that there was not an adequate basis for inferring a violation of customary international law, the Court – contrary to the lower court, NCLC, and the Second Circuit – reasoned that corporate liability is possible under the Alien Tort Statute.
Amicus brief filed 4/5/11. Decided 7/11/11.