IBM lawsuit (Holocaust claim by Gypsies)

Marzahn, the first internment camp for Roma (Gypsies) in the Third Reich. Germany, date uncertain.  — Landesarchiv BerlinIn January 2002 the Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action association (GIRCA) filed a lawsuit against IBM in Geneva’s Court of First Instance on behalf of five Roma (Gypsy) plaintiffs who were orphaned in the Holocaust.  The lawsuit alleged that IBM assisted the Nazis in Holocaust killings during World War II by providing the Nazis with punch card machines and computer technology that resulted in the coding, tracking and killing of Gypsies.  The plaintiffs sued IBM for “moral reparation” and US$20,000 each in damages.  The lawsuit was brought in Switzerland because IBM’s European headquarters during World War II were located in Geneva.  IBM has argued that its German subsidiary was taken over by Nazis during the war and that the parent company cannot be held responsible for how its machines were used during this time.  In 2004, a Swiss court of appeals overruled the Court of First Instance’s dismissal of the case for lack of personal jurisdiction over IBM.  In April 2005, the Court of First Instance dismissed the case, finding that the statute of limitations applied and the court was barred from hearing the case because too much time had elapsed since the alleged harm occurred.  The Supreme Court of Switzerland affirmed this ruling in 2006.

Before the Swiss lawsuit was filed, investigative journalist and author Edwin Black published a book, IBM and the Holocaust, in February 2001 detailing the role of IBM’s technology in the perpetration of the Holocaust.  In the same month, a class-action lawsuit against IBM was brought in US federal court by Holocaust survivors under the US Alien Tort Claims Act.  This lawsuit alleged IBM was complicit in crimes against humanity and violations of human rights during World War II.  The month after the US lawsuit was filed, it was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs.  The plaintiffs stated that they wanted to facilitate implementation of the German Holocaust fund.  

- “Swiss reject IBM-Holocaust lawsuit”, Associated Press, 18 Aug 2006

- “A Swiss Court Decides to Allow Gypsies' Holocaust Lawsuit to Proceed”, Anita Ramasastry, Findlaw’s Writ, 8 Jul 2004

- “Gypsies win right to sue IBM over role in Holocaust”, Ian Traynor, Guardian [UK], 23 Jun 2004

- “Gypsies ask IBM for Holocaust reparation”, BBC News, 10 Jun 2001

- “IBM AND THE HOLOCAUST: The Book, The Suit, And Where We Go From Here”, Anthony J. Sebok, Findlaw’s Writ, 12 Mar 2001

 - IBM: IBM Statement on Nazi-era Book and Lawsuit, 14 Feb 2001

- Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll PLLC: IBM Holocaust Case to be Voluntarily Dismissed, 29 Mar 2001

- Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll PLLC: Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. Files Class Action Lawsuit Against IBM , 11 Feb 2001

- Crown Publishing Group: Online Catalog: IBM and the Holocaust

- [français] Swiss Court: [PDF] Extrait de l'arrêt de la Ire Cour civile dans la cause Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action (GIRCA) contre International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) (recours en réforme) 4C.113/2006, 14 Aug 2006

- [français] Swiss Court: [PDF] Extrait de l'arrêt de la Ire Cour civile dans la cause International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) contre Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action (GIRCA) (recours en réforme) 4C.296/2004 , 22 Dec 2004

- Lawsuit in USA: [PDF] Grossman, et al v. IBM, 11 Feb 2001 [class action complaint filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York]

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Lawsuit
18 February 2014

IBM lawsuit (Holocaust claim by Gypsies)

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

In January 2002 the Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action association (GIRCA) filed a lawsuit against IBM in Geneva’s Court of First Instance on behalf of five Roma (Gypsy) plaintiffs who were orphaned in the Holocaust.  The lawsuit alleged that IBM assisted the Nazis in Holocaust killings during World War II by providing the Nazis with punch card machines and computer technology that resulted in the coding, tracking and killing of Gypsies.  The plaintiffs sued IBM for “moral reparation” and US$20,000 each in damages.  The lawsuit was brought in Switzerland because IBM’s European headquarters during World War II were located in Geneva.  IBM has argued that its German subsidiary was taken over by Nazis during the war and that the parent company cannot be held responsible for how its machines were used during this time.  In 2004, a Swiss court of appeals overruled the Court of First Instance’s dismissal of the case for lack of personal jurisdiction over IBM.  In April 2005, the Court of First Instance dismissed the case, finding that the statute of limitations applied and the court was barred from hearing the case because too much time had elapsed since the alleged harm occurred.  The Supreme Court of Switzerland affirmed this ruling in 2006.

 

Before the Swiss lawsuit was filed, investigative journalist and author Edwin Black published a book, IBM and the Holocaust, in February 2001 detailing the role of IBM’s technology in the perpetration of the Holocaust.  In the same month, a class-action lawsuit against IBM was brought in US federal court by Holocaust survivors under the US Alien Tort Claims Act.  This lawsuit alleged IBM was complicit in crimes against humanity and violations of human rights during World War II.  The month after the US lawsuit was filed, it was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs.  The plaintiffs stated that they wanted to facilitate implementation of the German Holocaust fund.  

 

- “Swiss reject IBM-Holocaust lawsuit”, Associated Press, 18 Aug 2006

- “A Swiss Court Decides to Allow Gypsies' Holocaust Lawsuit to Proceed”, Anita Ramasastry, Findlaw’s Writ, 8 Jul 2004

- “Gypsies win right to sue IBM over role in Holocaust”, Ian Traynor, Guardian [UK], 23 Jun 2004

- “Gypsies ask IBM for Holocaust reparation”, BBC News, 10 Jun 2001

- “IBM AND THE HOLOCAUST: The Book, The Suit, And Where We Go From Here”, Anthony J. Sebok, Findlaw’s Writ, 12 Mar 2001

 

- IBM: IBM Statement on Nazi-era Book and Lawsuit, 14 Feb 2001

- Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll PLLC: IBM Holocaust Case to be Voluntarily Dismissed, 29 Mar 2001

- Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll PLLC: Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. Files Class Action Lawsuit Against IBM , 11 Feb 2001

- Crown Publishing Group: Online Catalog: IBM and the Holocaust

 

- [français] Swiss Court: [PDF] Extrait de l'arrêt de la Ire Cour civile dans la cause Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action (GIRCA) contre International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) (recours en réforme) 4C.113/2006, 14 Aug 2006

- [français] Swiss Court: [PDF] Extrait de l'arrêt de la Ire Cour civile dans la cause International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) contre Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action (GIRCA) (recours en réforme) 4C.296/2004 , 22 Dec 2004

 

- Lawsuit in USA: [PDF] Grossman, et al v. IBM, 11 Feb 2001 [class action complaint filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York]

Article
29 October 2008

[PDF] Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launches world’s first online portal profiling human rights lawsuits against companies

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Today the non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launches a free online portal – the first to bring together and demystify lawsuits from across the world alleging human rights abuses by companies. The portal summarises in non-legal language over 35 cases and the positions of each side, with more cases to be added soon. It also presents special commentaries by experts...Companies in profiled lawsuits include: AngloGold Ashanti, Barclays, BHP Billiton, Biwater, Blackwater, BP, Cambior, Cape PLC, Chevron/Texaco, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, Dow/Union Carbide, Drummond, DynCorp, ExxonMobil, Firestone, Ford, Freeport-McMoRan, IBM, Mitsubishi, Nike, Occidental, Rio Tinto, Severstal, Shell, Standard Chartered, Talisman, Trafigura, Total, UBS, Wal-Mart, Yahoo!

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Article
3 May 2005

Swiss court rejects lawsuit alleging IBM helped Holocaust

Author: AFX

A Swiss court has rejected a lawsuit against IBM which claimed the US technology giant helped the Nazis exterminate millions of people during the Second World War, the plaintiffs' lawyer said Tuesday. The Geneva court ruled that the case was subject to the statute of limitations, preventing legal actions decades after the event, lawyer Henri-Philippe Sambuc said. Sambuc...said he would ask Geneva's appeals court to overturn the ruling... IBM has said that the case is groundless, rejecting allegations that it was in any way complicit in the Holocaust.

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Article
3 September 2004

IBM Asks Court To Block $12 Billion Holocaust Suit

Author: TechWeb Technology News

IBM has asked a Swiss court to block a multi-billion dollar lawsuit filed by an organization alleging that the computer giant's punch card machines facilitated the murder of Gypsies during World War II, lawyers said this week. The case, which has been working its way through Swiss courts since 2001, was brought by Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action (GIRCA), which is seeking up to $12 billion in collective damages...For its part, IBM has claimed that it lost control of its German subsidiary -- dubbed Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen GmbH, or Dehomag -- before war began in 1939.

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Article
8 July 2004

A Swiss Court Decides to Allow Gypsies' Holocaust Lawsuit to Proceed

Author: Anita Ramasastry, Associate Professor of Law, University of Washington [USA], in Findlaw's Writ

[A] Swiss appeals court decided that a group of five Gypsies could sue IBM in Switzerland. Previously, a lower court had dismissed the case on the ground that it lacked jurisdiction - deeming IBM's Geneva office only an "antenna," and not its European headquarters. But the appeals court held that jurisdiction was proper. The Gypsies allege...that IBM helped the Nazis commit mass murder, by providing them with punch card machines and computer technology that resulted in the coding, tracking and killing of Gypsies. [also refers to Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen (Dehomag) (formerly part of IBM)]

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Article
22 June 2004

Swiss OK Gypsy Holocaust Suit Vs IBM

Author: Thomas Atkins, Reuters

A Swiss court has cleared the way for a group of gypsies to sue computer giant IBM for allegedly helping Nazi slaughter campaigns during World War II...

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