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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Article
1 October 2004

[PDF] Oil and Human Rights

Author: Sir Geoffrey Chandler, Founder-Chair, Amnesty International UK Business Group 1991-2001 and a former Director of Shell International, in Oil, Gas & Energy Law Intelligence (OGEL)

The growth of oil wealth in many developing countries has fuelled the ability of governments to invest in armaments, to engage in the construction of buildings for prestige rather than utility, and to transform small-scale corruption into personal or political gain on a scale hitherto undreamt of at the cost of social equity and political stability...Protection of human rights now lies at the core of security of supply. [refers to Shell, BP, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, Talisman, Unocal]

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Article
1 October 2004

[PDF] Oil, Gas & Energy Law Intelligence [OGEL] - Special Feature on Corporate Social Responsibility

Author: Christine Batruch (Lundin Petroleum) & Ayesha Dias (UNDP), eds., in Oil, Gas & Energy Law Intelligence [OGEL]

[special issue of OGEL with articles on human rights, environmental and development impacts of oil & gas sector, including discussion of numerous codes and principles] [refers to Shell, BP, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, Talisman, Unocal]

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Article
18 September 2004

Unocal decision impacts Shell, Coca-Cola, Exxon [part of ExxonMobil] and Gap

Author: Richard Welford, CSR Asia

The decision [by a California judge] reported here yesterday to allow the lawsuit against Unocal’s activities in Myanmar to go forward will impact other companies facing actions under the Alien Tort Claims Act awaiting this appeal ruling.

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Article
1 August 2004

The questions over aiding and abetting

Author: Jonathan Birchall, Financial Times

Does a group of Burmese villagers have the right to take legal action in the US against a US oil company over alleged complicity in murder and forced labour in their home country? Unocal, the oil company, will shortly resume its efforts to persuade a federal appeals court in California that they do not...Lawyers representing the Burmese villagers in the Unocal case believe the complaints - of complicity in acts of murder, forced labour and rape - will be sufficient to bring the case to trial. [refers also to cases against ExxonMobil, Talisman, Shell, ChevronTexaco]

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Article
26 July 2004

U.S. Courts Tackle Foreign Abuses - Energy corporations question 'law of nations'

Author: Jennifer Huang, newsdesk.org

A 215-year-old law originally written to address piracy and crimes abroad against American ambassadors is at the heart of litigation targeting some of the world's largest energy corporations...a recent Supreme Court ruling may have left the door open for the suits to proceed. [refers to ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Unocal, Shell]

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Article
1 July 2004

[PDF] full report: "In Our Court: ATCA, Sosa and the Triumph of Human Rights"

Author: EarthRights International

This report seeks to summarize the history, jurisprudence and politics of ATCA in order to explain how this relatively obscure law became a lightning rod in the world of business and human rights...[refers to Unocal, Chevron (part of ChevronTexaco), ExxonMobil, Freeport-McMoRan, Shell, Texaco (part of ChevronTexaco), Total, Halliburton, Talisman, United Technologies, Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), Coca-Cola, Tidewater, Fresh Del Monte Produce, Southern Peru Copper (joint venture Grupo México, Cerro Trading, Phelps Dodge), Newmont, DynCorp (part of Computer Sciences), Ford, Union Carbide (part of Dow), Citigroup, UBS, Credit Suisse, Barclays, IBM, General Motors, Westinghouse, Bank of America, Rio Tinto, Pfizer, DaimlerChrysler, Occidental Petroleum, Drummond, Titan, CACI, Eastman Kodak, Paribas (part of BNP Paribas)]

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Article
1 June 2004

States and Corporations: Legal Responsibilities to the People

Author: Ana Elena Obando, Women's Human Rights net

[A] special report on the legal, civil and criminal responsibilities of states and corporations to the people for the violation of their human rights. It explains the international legal framework and the mechanisms available that may be used to hold corporations accountable. Finally, it mentions opportunities for and limitations to advancing an agenda for women through these mechanisms. [refers to Shell, Dow Chemical, Occidental Chemical (part of Occidental Petroleum), Dole, Standard Fruit (now Dole), Standard Fruit & Steamship (now Dole), Chiquita, Monsanto, Pemex, BHP Billiton, Cambior, ExxonMobil, Texaco (part of ChevronTexaco), Total, Union Carbide (part of Dow Chemical)]

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Article
12 April 2004

Big Business Attacks ATCA in New York Times; ERI's Rebuttal

Author: EarthRights International

Last Friday’s New York Times (April 9, 2004) ran an op-ed page advertisement (“op-ad”) paid for by the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), a big business lobby group, that summarizes their opposition to the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), an important human rights law. The op-ad, called “The Business of Human Rights,” is filled with misleading, self-serving arguments.

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Article
9 March 2004

Recent ATCA Cases Against Corporate Defendants

Author: EarthRights International

[provides brief status report on human rights lawsuits in US courts under Alien Tort Claims Act against: ChevronTexaco, Coca-Cola, Drummond, Dyncorp, ExxonMobil, Freeport-McMoran, Fresh Del Monte Produce, Gap, Rio Tinto, Shell, Southern Peru Copper, Texaco, Union Carbide, Unocal]

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Article
10 February 2004

Courting Responsibility

Author: Jaideep Singh, Mother Jones [Interview with Terry Collingsworth, International Labor Rights Fund]

In the human and labor rights community, suing companies is our nuclear weapon – our last resort...They're not serious about alternatives. They want to have it both ways. So we're going to keep suing them and keep winning. And then we'll say, "hey, how do you want to do this?" [refers to Unocal, Total, Control Risks, ExxonMobil, Coca-Cola, Shell, Chevron]

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