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US court to allow lawsuit against Nestlé & Cargill over alleged complicity in child slavery in cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire to proceed

"Chocolatiers Face Tough Slog in Slave Labor Appeal", 7 June 2018

Revisiting a controversial case that split appeals courts three years ago, a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel indicated Thursday it will keep alive a lawsuit accusing Nestle and Cargill of aiding and abetting child slavery to get cheap cocoa.  The six plaintiffs, identified in the lawsuit only as John Doe, were kidnapped from Mali as children in the 1990s and forced to work on Ivory Coast cocoa plantations for up to 14 hours per day, six days per week.  They say they were given only scraps of food to eat and beaten and whipped with tree branches...They also claim Nestle and Cargill representatives visited the farms several times each year and knew the farmers used child slave labor.  Circuit Judge Morgan Christen...appeared to agree the plaintiffs can sue Nestle and Cargill under the Alien Tort Statute for giving their slave masters personal spending money to guarantee access to cheaply produced cocoa beans.  Christen’s concern over the spending money came in response to U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson’s March 2017 decision to dismiss the case for failing to allege domestic conduct sufficient to sue under the statute...At issue is which standard the plaintiffs must satisfy to sue Nestle and Cargill under the Alien Tort Statute.  The plaintiffs...argue Nestle’s and Cargill’s decisions to aid and abet slavery touch and concern the United States because the decisions to give the farmers money and technical support were made at the defendants’ headquarters here...

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