US S. Ct. nullifies court order allowing human rights lawsuit against Rio Tinto to proceed; order case to be reviewed in light of Kiobel v. Shell decision
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Author: Greg Stohr, Bloomberg
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered reconsideration of a ruling that would require Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) to defend against a lawsuit accusing the mining company of contributing to genocide in Papua New Guinea. [T]he justices pointed to their decision last week scaling back the 1789 Alien Tort Statute…[that] threw out a suit accusing two foreign-based units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) of facilitating torture and executions in Nigeria. The majority said the Alien Tort Statute generally doesn’t apply to conduct beyond U.S. borders…The lawsuit against London-based Rio Tinto stems from the deaths of thousands of indigenous people starting in 1988 on the island of Bougainville, where Rio Tinto was part of a consortium operating the world’s largest open copper pit. Rio Tinto is accused of helping the military carry out the killings by providing attack helicopters, munitions and other support. The company denies the allegations. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said parts of the Rio Tinto lawsuit could go forward…
The U.S. Supreme Court…ruled for a powerful multinational company in a dispute with indigenous people, citing a ruling last week. The brief order is another major victory for multinationals doing business in the United States and who are vulnerable to U.S. courts. Rio Tinto Plc is a British-Australian mining company…A U.S. appeals court approved a suit using the Alien Tort Statute and arising out of conflict "on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea and the uprising against Rio Tinto in the late 1980s that resulted in the use of military force and many deaths."…Monday, in a one paragraph order, the Supreme Court vacated…the appellate ruling…, and sent the case back to the appeals court "for further consideration in light of Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.," the Nigerian ruling.
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