Drummond lawsuit (re paramilitary killings in Colombia, filed in the US by families of deceased labour leaders)
Snapshot: Starting in 2002, family members of Colombian nationals killed by the paramilitary group AUC filed lawsuits against Drummond alleging that the company hired the paramilitary group to commit the killings or was otherwise liable for aiding and abetting the group. This case profile looks at lawsuits filed in the US by family members of deceased Colombian labour leaders.
Balcero Giraldo, et al., Romero, et al., & Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company
In 2002, families of three deceased Colombian labour leaders and a union representing coal miners in Colombia filed suit against Drummond in US federal court, alleging the company had hired paramilitary groups to kill and torture the labour leaders. In March 2015, after years of proceedings, the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that the harm had occurred outside US territory.
In 2002, the families of three deceased Colombian labour leaders and the union they belonged to, Sintramienergética, filed suit against Drummond Company, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Drummond Ltd. in US federal court. The plaintiffs alleged that Drummond hired Colombian paramilitaries to kill and torture the three labour leaders in 2001. Sintramienergética represents workers at Drummond’s coal mining operations in Colombia. The case was brought under the US Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), US Torture Victim Protection Act and Alabama state law. Drummond sought dismissal of the case, which the court granted as to the state law claims and one of the ATCA claims in 2003. The court declined to dismiss the ATCA claims for extrajudicial killing and for denial of rights to associate and organise. In March 2007, the court ruled that the case against Drummond Ltd. (the subsidiary) would go to trial, but dismissed the case against Drummond Company (the parent company). In June of 2007, the district court judge dismissed the wrongful death claims, but the judge allowed the plaintiffs’ war crimes allegations under ATCA (summary execution) to stand. The trial was held in July 2007. The jury acquitted Drummond finding that the company was not liable for the deaths of the three murdered labour leaders. On 11 December 2007, the plaintiffs filed their opening brief to appeal the lower court's verdict with the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. On 25 March 2015, the Court dismissed the lawsuit against Drummond on the basis that the harm occurred outside the US.
- Drummond Cleared on Death Squad Murders, Jack Bouboushian, Courthosue News, 26 Mar 2015
- War crimes lawsuit against Drummond dismissed, Ryan Poe, Birmingham Business Journal, 31 Jul 2013
- Colombian judge convicts ex-contractor in Drummond union leader killing, Associated Press, 6 Feb 2013
- Mining Company Faces Suit Over Union Killings, Kevin Duvall, 4 Feb 2011
- Suit claims Ala. coal firm funded Colombian terror, Bob Johnson, AP, 28 May 2009
- Children Sue Ala. Company In Colombian Mine Deaths, Jay Reeves, AP, 20 Mar 2009
- Alabama Company Is Exonerated in Murders at Colombian Mine, Kyle Whitmore, New York Times, 27 Jul 2007
- Drummond case shows danger facing Colombian unions, Hugh Bronstein, Reuters, 16 Nov 2006
- US firm sued after mine union leaders' deaths, Andrew Gumbel, Independent [UK], 25 Mar 2002
- Drummond does not negotiate with illegal groups; the Company emphatically rejects all charges against the company and its executives, 21 Mar 2007 [press release]
- Drummond's Colombian Operations
- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: Jane Doe, et al. v. Drummond Company, 25 Mar 2015
- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Memorandum Opinion Granting Summary Judgment, 25 Jul 2013
- Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, 17 Sep 2012
- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: [PDF] Locarno Baloco, et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc., 3 Feb 2011
- Romero, et al. v. Drummond, et al. - Appellants' Opening Brief, 11 Dec 2007
- Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company - Complaint, 14 Mar 2002
- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: Juan Aquas Romero v. Drummond Company, 14 Mar 2007 [order unsealing certain case documents]
- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company, 14 Apr 2003 [order dismissing certain claims, declining to dismiss claims for extrajudicial killings and denial of rights to associate & organise]