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ExxonMobil lawsuit (re Aceh)

Indonesia troops guard ExxonMobilIn 2001, eleven Indonesian villagers filed suit against ExxonMobil in US federal court alleging that the company was complicit in human rights abuses committed by Indonesian security forces in the province of Aceh.  The plaintiffs maintain that ExxonMobil hired the security forces, who were members of the Indonesian military, to protect the natural gas extraction facility and pipeline which ExxonMobil was operating.  The plaintiffs further claim that ExxonMobil knew or should have known about the Indonesian military’s human rights violations against the people of Aceh.  The plaintiffs allege that they suffered human rights violations, such as murder, torture and rape, at the hands of these security forces. 

On October 14, 2005, a US federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs’ case may proceed on District of Columbia (DC) state law claims (which include wrongful death, theft by coercion and assault and battery), but he dismissed the plaintiffs’ federal claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act.  On March 2, 2006, a US federal judge denied a motion to dismiss filed by ExxonMobil, and ordered the parties to proceed toward discovery in this case.  In January of 2007, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit denied ExxonMobil's appeal of the lower court's denial of its motion to dismiss.  Additionally, the court of appeals denied ExxonMobil's petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the lower court to dismiss the claims against the company.  In July of 2007, ExxonMobil appealed to the US Supreme Court (petitioned for a writ of certiorari).  On 13 November 2007, the US Supreme Court invited the US Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the views of the executive branch on this petition.  On 16 June 2008, the US Supreme declined to hear this case.  On 27 August 2008, the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on a motion for summary judgment filed by ExxonMobil; the judge declined to grant the defendants’ motion.  The judge found that the plaintiffs had presented sufficient preliminary evidence to support their allegations of abuse and therefore the case should be submitted to a jury for trial.  On 30 September 2009, the US District Court ruled on another motion to dismiss from the defendants.  The judge granted ExxonMobil's motion to dismiss the case finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the case in a US court.  On 8 July 2011, the Court of Appeals reversed the district court's dismissal of the case, finding that a corporation should not be immune from liability under the Alien Tort Claims Act.  The court remanded the lawsuit to the lower court.  ExxonMobil filed a motion with the Court of Appeals on 8 August 2011 asking the court to rehear the case en banc. In September 2014, a US federal court held that Indonesian villagers from the Aceh province can proceed with their claims against ExxonMobil.   In a decision issued in July 2015, a US federal court ruled that the plaintiffs' claims sufficiently "touch and concern" the United States and may proceed in US court.

- "Exxon Wants Rehearing in Corporate Liability Dispute", Mike Carcella, Blog of the Legal Times, 10 Aug 2011
- "Appeals Court Revives Torture Claims Against Exxon", Mike Scarcella, Blog of the Legal Times, 8 Jul 2011
- "Judge Dismisses Indonesians' Lawsuit Against Exxon", Brent Kendall, Dow Jones, 30 Sep 2009
- “Judge Rejects Summary Judgment in Human Rights Lawsuit Against Exxon”, Mike Scarcella, Legal Times, 28 Aug 2008
- "Exxon faces lawsuit on killings in Indonesia", Bloomberg News, Associated Press, 17 Jan 2007
- "Exxon: Torture suit sets bad precedent", Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press, 8 Mar 2006
- “ExxonMobil Rejects Aceh Human Rights Abuse Claims”, Kirsty Alfredson, CNN.com, 22 Jun 2001

- ExxonMobil: Human Rights Policy

- Cohen, Milstein (co-counsel for the plaintiffs): ExxonMobil - Aceh, Indonesia

- International Rights Advocates (co-counsel for the plaintiffs): ExxonMobil: Case Summary (includes links to legal briefs filed in this case)

- [PDF] John Doe VIII, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. - Petition for Rehearing En Banc, 8 Aug 2011
- [PDF] Exxon Mobil Corporation v. John Doe I – Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, Reply Brief in Support of Petition, 23 Oct 2007
- [PDF] Exxon Mobil Corporation v. John Doe I – Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, Respondents’ Brief in Opposition, 9 Oct 2007
- [PDF] Exxon Mobil Corporation v. John Doe I – Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, 20 Jul 2007

- US State Department: [PDF] Amicus Brief filed in Doe et al. v. ExxonMobil et al., 14 Jul 2003

- International Rights Advocates: [PDF] Complaint filed for Doe et al. v. ExxonMobil et.al., 11 Jun 2001

- US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: [PDF] John Doe VIII, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. - Opinion of the Court, 8 Jul 2011
- US District Court for the District of Columbia: [PDF] John Doe VIII, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. - Memorandum Opinion, 30 Sep 2009
- US District Court for the District of Columbia: [PDF] John Doe, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. - Memorandum & Opinion, 27 Aug 2008
- US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit: [PDF] Doe et al. v. ExxonMobil, 12 Jan 2007

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Author: AFP

La Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos aceptó el lunes una demanda por violación de los derechos humanos presentada contra...ExxonMobil, tras actuaciones de los servicios de seguridad de esta compañía en una explotación de gas natural en Indonesia. La mayor instancia judicial del país se negó a aceptar el recurso de apelación de Exxon, validando indirectamente la demanda, que abre la vía a un eventual proceso.

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16 June 2008

[US] Court rejects Exxon appeal in human rights case

Author: Christopher S Rugaber, Associated Press

Exxon Mobil Corp. has failed to convince the Supreme Court to halt a human rights lawsuit against it. The justices, without comment, on Monday rejected the energy company's appeal of a ruling on a 2001 lawsuit filed by International Rights Advocates on behalf of 11 villagers in Indonesia's Aceh province.

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17 August 2007

To Avoid Risk of Alien Tort Claims Act Cases, Companies Must Improve Human Rights

Author: Bill Baue, SocialFunds

The first-ever corporate ATCA verdict of not guilty does not diminish the ongoing liabilities companies face in US courts for human rights violations committed overseas. Late last month, a federal jury delivered the verdict in the first corporate Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) case to make it through trial, finding Drummond coal company not complicit in the 2001 murder of three union leaders at one of its mines in Colombia. Drummond’s reprieve may be temporary, however, as the plaintiffs filed appeals protesting the judge’s exclusion or limitation of eye-witness testimony...[also refers to Chevron, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Exxon-Mobil, Firestone (part of Bridgestone), Shell, Wal-Mart]

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27 July 2007

Alabama Company Is Exonerated in Murders at Colombian Mine

Author: Kyle Whitmire, New York Times

A federal jury found on Thursday that Drummond, an Alabama-based coal company, was not liable for the deaths of three union leaders at its mine near La Loma, Colombia, in 2001. The case...was the first of its kind to go to trial under the Alien Tort Statute... At trial...the plaintiffs could not prove clear connections between the company and the paramilitary groups... Similar lawsuits are pending against...Exxon Mobil, Occidental Petroleum and Chiquita Brands... The Drummond victory...will not likely deter similar lawsuits, [Peter J. Spiro, a law professor at Temple University] said, because the jury verdict does not test the underlying legal theory of the Alien Tort Statute. Those issues of the law’s application must be determined on the appellate level.

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17 January 2007

Exxon faces lawsuit on killings in Indonesia [USA]

Author: Bloomberg News, The Associated Press

Exxon Mobil…must face a lawsuit that claims Indonesian soldiers guarding a natural gas processing plant in Aceh province tortured and killed local residents, the U.S. Court of Appeals…ruled…The court upheld a lower court's denial of Exxon Mobil's request to throw out the case…The suit, filed in 2001 by 11 Indonesians, claims the soldiers were under Exxon Mobil's direction and control, making the company liable.

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13 October 2006

Oil Companies Revamp Ethical Plans as Legal Risk Grows

Author: Benoit Faucon, Dow Jones

[A lawsuit against ExxonMobil relating to alleged abuses by the Indonesian military in Aceh] exemplifies how oil companies now face a rising risk to their reputations from the use of extra-territorial legislation. [They] increasingly invest in more risky and unstable parts of the world, leaving them open to charges of collusion with questionable regimes or practices... And that means the companies are implementing new, more stringent corporate policies, while at the same time trying to avoid a public airing of uncomfortable allegations in the courts. [also refers to lawsuits against Total (regarding Burma), Shell (regarding Nigeria), Talisman (regarding Sudan), BP, Unocal (now part of Chevron, regarding Burma)]

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31 August 2006

Why all companies should address human rights (and how the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre can help)

Author: Christopher Avery, Annabel Short, Gregory Tzeutschler Regaignon - Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

[this chapter appears in the the ICCA Handbook on CSR and Corporate Culture; a list of chapters in the handbook and ordering details can be found at http://www.cca-institute.org/handbook.html] The following sections set out why human rights are relevant to all companies, and why it is important that all companies take human rights seriously. i. International standards require companies to address human rights... ii. Only human rights provide companies with a framework of globally recognised principles... iii. There are increasing expectations for companies to manage human rights issues... iv. There are significant risks for companies that don’t respect human rights... v. Companies benefit from taking a proactive stance on human rights... vi. Human rights are universal standards that go beyond national laws... [refers to ABB, adidas-Salomon, Anglo American, Barclays, BHP Billiton, Body Shop, BP, BT, Cape PLC, Carrefour, Chiquita, Chevron/Texaco, Coca-Cola, Co-operative Financial Services, ExxonMobil, Ford, Gap, Hewlett-Packard, ING, McDonald’s, MTV Networks Europe, National Grid, Nike, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Occidental, Premier Oil, Rio Tinto, Shell, Statoil, Taco Bell (part of YUM!), Talisman Energy, Union Carbide/Dow, Unocal, Wal-Mart]

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1 August 2006

BP, Suncor, and Shell Top Oil Sector Sustainability Rating; Chevron and ExxonMobil Rank Low

Author: Bill Baue, SocialFunds.com

Toronto-based socially responsible investing (SRI) research firm Jantzi Research recently released a report entitled Oil and Gas in a Bull Market: The Shifting Sands of Responsibility that rates and ranks 23 oil and gas companies on their social and environmental performance. UK-based BP topped the list...with second through fourth places going to Canada-based Suncor Energy, Nexen and Petro-Canada respectively, and UK-based Shell rounding out the top five...Chevron ranks the highest of the US-based companies...followed by Burlington Resources [part of ConocoPhilips]...Marathon Oil...and ExxonMobil...

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31 July 2006

[PDF] Brief on Corporations and Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region - Prepared for Professor John Ruggie, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Business and Human Rights

Author: Allens Arthur Robinson law firm

[159-page reference paper covering legal framework & cases in the following countries: Australia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, People's Republic of China] The main findings of this brief are broadly structured in accordance with the first three components of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on Business and Human Rights' (UNSRSG) mandate as they pertain to the Asia Pacific region, namely: • identifying and clarifying standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with regard to human rights across the Asia Pacific region; • the role of the State in various Asia Pacific countries in effectively regulating and adjudicating the role of TNCs and other business enterprises with regard to human rights; and • the implications for TNCs and other business enterprises of the concepts of 'complicity' and 'sphere of influence'. [Conclusion on page 159 begins:] The UNSRSG stated in his Preliminary Remarks at the World Mines Ministries Forum in March 2006 that: "human rights impact assessment today is as underdeveloped as environmental impact assessment was a generation or so ago..." The same can be said for the legal regimes that exist to hold corporations to account for their direct and indirect human rights impacts...

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21 June 2006

full report: "Too High a Price: The Human Rights Cost of the Indonesian Military’s Economic Activities"

Author: Lisa Misol, Researcher, Human Rights Watch

[refers to International Timber Corporation Indonesia, Beta Omega Technologies, Agrosilva Beta Kartika (part of Beta Omega Technologies), Yamaker, Perhutani, Inkopad, ExxonMobil, Freeport-McMoRan, BP]

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