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13 Jul 2011

Jonathan Stempel, Reuters Africa

Firestone wins Liberian child labor case in US

A federal appeals court threw out a lawsuit accusing the Firestone tire company of illegally using child labor in Liberia, but found that U.S. law allows companies to be held liable for human rights abuses abroad…Judge Richard Posner…rejected claims by 23 Liberian children who challenged working conditions on a…latex-producing rubber tree farm in Liberia…Posner…concluded there was an inadequate basis to infer that Firestone violated customary international law in using the child labor…Posner nonetheless accepted the plaintiffs' argument that corporate liability could exist under the Alien Tort Statute where "violations are directed, encouraged, or condoned at the corporate defendant's decisionmaking level." He said the 2nd Circuit ruling concluded incorrectly that because corporations have never been prosecuted for violating customary international law, there was no principle under that law to bind them…[refers to Bridgestone, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell]

Part of the following timelines

USA: Seventh Circuit appeals court rejects lawsuit against Firestone over child labour, but says Alien Tort Claims Act can apply to companies over human rights abuses

Firestone lawsuit (re Liberia)