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Daimler lawsuit (re Argentina)

Status: OPEN

Incident date
June 20, 2013

In 2004, 23 Argentinian citizens filed a complaint under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act against DaimlerChrysler AG (now Daimler) in US federal court in California.  They alleged that one of Daimler’s subsidiaries, Mercedes Benz Argentina, had collaborated with state security forces to kidnap, detain, torture and kill the plaintiffs or their close relatives, who were employees of Mercedes Benz Argentina, during Argentina’s military dictatorship, which ruled from 1976-1983.  In 2005, Daimler filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of “personal jurisdiction” in California.  Personal jurisdiction requires a certain minimum level of contacts between the defendant and the state in which the suit is filed.  Daimler, headquartered in Germany, argued that it could not be sued in California solely based on the fact that its subsidiary, Mercedes Benz USA, had two offices in the state.

On 22 November 2005, the district court granted Daimler’s motion to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, finding that Daimler did not have “continuous and systematic contacts” with Mercedes Benz USA.  The plaintiffs appealed, and the appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision on 18 May 2011, arguing that Daimler was subject to personal jurisdiction in California.  In addition, it argued that Argentinian courts would conclude the plaintiffs waited too long to sue, and that it was unclear whether German courts would consider the plaintiffs' claims.  The case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

In February 2012, Daimler appealed to the US Supreme Court.  On 19 April 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal.  On 14 January 2014, the Supreme Court reverted the federal appeals court decision, and ruled that Daimler did not have enough ties with California for courts to hear the case.

- "U.S. top court curbs human rights claims in Daimler ruling", Lawrence Hurley, Reuters, 14 Jan 2014
- [ES] "La Corte de EE.UU. rechazó un juicio contra Mercedes-Benz por derechos humanos en la Argentina", IECO-Clarín.com, 14 enero 2014
- [FR] "Abus de Mercedes en Argentine: Daimler ne peut être poursuivi aux USA", AFP, 14 janvier 2014
- [ES]  “La Corte de EE.UU. trata la denuncia a Daimler, La Nación, 23 abril 2013
- “Daimler Gets Supreme Court Hearing on Human-Rights Suit”, Greg Stohr, Bloomberg, 22 Apr 2013
- [FR] « La Cour suprême américaine dira si Daimler AG peut être poursuivi  », Agence France-Presse, 22 avril 2013
- [ES] “Juicio civil a Mercedes Benz por favorecer la represión”, Télam, 12 noviembre 2011
- “Daimler Loses Bid for Review of Argentine Rights Case Ruling", Karen Gullo, Bloomberg, 9 Nov 2011
- “Daimler must face Argentina abuse lawsuit in US”, Jonathan Stempel, Reuters, 18 May 2011
- [ES] “Con expertise represivo internacional", Gustavo Veiga, Página 12, 1 diciembre 2009
- “DaimlerChrysler Wins on Human Rights Appeal”, Kate Moser, Law.com, 1 Sep 2009
- [ES] “En EU, juicio contra Mercedes-Benz implicada en la desaparición de obreros durante la dictadura”, Milenio, 22 abril 2008
- “DaimlerChrysler sued over alleged Argentine abuses”, Pablo Bachelet, Global Policy Forum, 14 Jan 2004
- [ES] “Demanda contra gigante automotriz”, BBC Mundo, 15 enero 2004

- European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights: Corporation and Dictatorships

- [PDF] "Daimler AG v. Bauman et al. - Opinion", US Supreme Court, 14 Jan 2014 [opinion reversing US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision]
- [PDF] "Bauman et al. v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation et al. – Order", US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 9 Nov 2011 [order denying petition for rehearing]
- [PDF] “Bauman et al. v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation et al. - Opinion”, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 18 May 2011 [opinion finding court has personal jurisdiction over defendant]
- [PDF] “Bauman et al v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation et al. - Opinion” US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 28 Aug 2009 (decision later withdrawn) [opinion upholding lower court’s dismissal of case]

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