US federal appeals court rules lawsuits against chocolate makers for alleged forced labour & child slavery in Côte d’Ivoire can proceed

Author: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle (USA), Published on: 10 July 2019

"Suit alleging US chocolate makers collaborated in slave labor proceeds", 7 Jul 2019

A federal appeals court in San Francisco reaffirmed its ruling Friday that youngsters on cocoa plantations in Africa can sue U.S. chocolate makers for allegedly collaborating in slave labor.

But eight judges, led by an appointee of President Trump, argued in dissent that corporations can’t be sued for actions in foreign countries.

The suit by six former laborers on farms in the Ivory Coast “alleges clear, egregious and terrible violations of (their) basic human rights,” but that conduct “took place almost entirely abroad,” said Judge Mark Bennett in an opinion joined by seven colleagues on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He said the court was ignoring Supreme Court directives that the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 law allowing foreigners to sue in U.S. courts for violations of international law, “must be narrowly construed and sparingly applied.”...

The companies, Nestle and Cargill, asked the full appeals court for a new hearing before a larger panel. The court said the request failed to gain a majority among its 25 active judges. That leaves Nelson’s ruling in place, although she said the plaintiffs must present more specific evidence of wrongdoing by Nestle...

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Related companies: Cargill Nestlé