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US appeals court dismisses lawsuit against Ford & IBM brought by South African apartheid victims

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Article
31 July 2015

Alien Tort Case Development: Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against Ford and IBM

Author: Sarah Altschuller, CSR and the Law by Foley Hoag

Earlier this week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision in In re: South African Apartheid Litigation dismissing claims brought pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) against Ford and IBM. Plaintiffs had alleged that the companies aided and abetted tortious conduct by South Africa’s apartheid regime. The Court observed that the “focus” of the necessary inquiry as to whether plaintiffs’ claims properly “touch and concern” the United States is “the nature and location of the conduct constituting the alleged offenses under the law of nations.”

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Article
30 July 2015

Unrealistic Pleading Standards: Another Injustice for Human Rights Victims

Author: Sophia Cope, Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow to human rights victims when it dismissed Balintulo v. Ford Motor Co. this week. The appellate court…[applied] an unrealistically and unfairly high pleading standard to a case brought by black South Africans against IBM Corp. and Ford Motor Co. for their roles in facilitating apartheid. In February, we filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ case against IBM…We believe strongly in innovation and the power of technology to be a force for good…As we said in our amicus brief, “U.S. corporations should not enjoy immunity for their purposeful assistance, technological or otherwise, in gross human rights violations . . . Technology has the capacity to protect human rights, but it also can be customized to make violations ruthlessly efficient.”

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Article
27 July 2015

2nd Circuit Tosses Apartheid Cases Against IBM, Ford

Author: Dan McCue, Courthouse News Service

Victims of apartheid in South Africa cannot sue IBM and the Ford Motor Co. in New York because there is no evidence any of the corporations' alleged offenses occurred in the United States, the Second Circuit ruled Monday. The ruling, written by U.S. Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes on behalf of the three-judge panel, cites a 2013 ruling by the Supreme Court that significantly limits the reach of the 1789 Alien Tort Statute…The panel's ruling Monday upheld decision by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, who threw out the cases last year -- some of them filed as long ago as 2002, against scores of corporations and individuals -- because the conduct complained of occurred overseas.

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Article
27 July 2015

Ford, IBM defeat appeal over apartheid abuses -U.S. court

Author: Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

Victims of apartheid in South Africa cannot pursue lawsuits seeking to hold Ford Motor Co and IBM Corp liable for conducting business that helped perpetuate the practice decades ago…The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said black South Africans did not show that Ford and IBM engaged in enough wrongdoing in the United States from the 1970s to early 1990s to justify lawsuits over their alleged roles in killings, torture and other human rights abuses. Ford was accused of providing military vehicles for South African security forces, and sharing information about anti-apartheid and union activists. IBM was accused of providing technology and training to perpetuate racial separation and the "denationalization" of black South Africans. The plaintiffs sued 13 years ago under the Alien Tort Statute…

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Article
27 July 2015

[PDF] Balintulo, et al. v. Ford, IBM - Opinion

Author: US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit

This appeal presents the question of whether plaintiffs, victims of South African apartheid, have plausibly alleged relevant conduct committed within the United States that is sufficient to rebut the Alien Tort Statute’s presumption against extraterritoriality. We hold that they have not. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the August 28, 2014 order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Shira A. Sheindlin, Judge).

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