Drummond lawsuits (re Colombia)

 

Balcero Giraldo, et al., Romero, et al., & Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company

Para la versión en español de este perfil de las demandas judiciales, haga clic acá.

AUC credit flickr Silvia Andrea Moreno

In 2002, the families of three deceased Colombian labour leaders and the union they belonged to, Sintramienergética, filed suit against Drummond Company, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Drummond Ltd. in US federal court.  The plaintiffs alleged that Drummond hired Colombian paramilitaries to kill and torture the three labour leaders in 2001.  Sintramienergética represents workers at Drummond’s coal mining operations in Colombia.  The case was brought under the US Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), US Torture Victim Protection Act and Alabama state law.  Drummond sought dismissal of the case, which the court granted as to the state law claims and one of the ATCA claims in 2003.  The court declined to dismiss the ATCA claims for extrajudicial killing and for denial of rights to associate and organise.  In March 2007, the court ruled that the case against Drummond Ltd. (the subsidiary) would go to trial, but dismissed the case against Drummond Company (the parent company).  In June of 2007, the district court judge dismissed the wrongful death claims, but the judge allowed the plaintiffs’ war crimes allegations under ATCA (summary execution) to stand.  The trial was held in July 2007.  The jury acquitted Drummond finding that the company was not liable for the deaths of the three murdered labour leaders.  On 11 December 2007, the plaintiffs filed their opening brief to appeal the lower court's verdict with the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. On 25 March 2015, the Court dismissed the lawsuit against Drummond on the basis that the harm occurred outside the US.

In March 2009, the children of three slain Colombian union leaders filed a new lawsuit in US federal court against Drummond alleging the company's complicity in the killings.  Another lawsuit was filed in US federal court against Drummond in May 2009 alleging that the company had made payments to the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym AUC) to kill labour leaders.  Drummond has denied these allegations.  While a lower court dismissed the lawsuit brought by the union leaders' children, on 3 February 2011 the federal court of appeals reversed this dismissal and remanded the case to the lower court.  The court of appeals found that the children did have standing to pursue their claims against Drummond and remanded their previously dismissed claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act for further proceedings at the trial court level.  On 25 July 2013 the district court judge dismissed the case against Drummond finding that the court no longer had jurisdiction to hear the case, citing the US Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v. Shell. On 23 September 2014, a US federal appeals court affirmed a lower court’s order from 2012 to dismiss the lawsuit against Drummond on the basis that the “allegations and evidence…do not show conduct focused in the United States.”

In February 2013 a former contractor for Drummond was sentenced by a Colombian court to 38 years in prison for organizing the killing of two labour leaders in 2001.  The judge ordered prosecutors to investigate Drummond’s president and several former employees to determine whether they had a role in the killings. Consequently, in May 2015, a former executive of Drummond was charged with the murder of two trade unionists, after former paramilitaries claimed he took part in the murders ordered by the company. This case is now to be decided by Colombia’s Courts of Justice.

- Drummond Cleared on Death Squad Murders, Jack Bouboushian, Courthosue News, 26 Mar 2015
- War crimes lawsuit against Drummond dismissed, Ryan Poe, Birmingham Business Journal, 31 Jul 2013
Colombian judge convicts ex-contractor in Drummond union leader killing, Associated Press, 6 Feb 2013
- Mining Company Faces Suit Over Union Killings, Kevin Duvall, 4 Feb 2011
- Suit claims Ala. coal firm funded Colombian terror, Bob Johnson, AP, 28 May 2009
- Children Sue Ala. Company In Colombian Mine Deaths, Jay Reeves, AP, 20 Mar 2009
- Alabama Company Is Exonerated in Murders at Colombian Mine, Kyle Whitmore, New York Times, 27 Jul 2007
- Drummond case shows danger facing Colombian unions, Hugh Bronstein, Reuters, 16 Nov 2006
- US firm sued after mine union leaders' deaths, Andrew Gumbel, Independent [UK], 25 Mar 2002

Drummond Ltd.:
- Drummond does not negotiate with illegal groups; the Company emphatically rejects all charges against the company and its executives, 21 Mar 2007 [press release]
- Drummond's Colombian Operations

- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: Jane Doe, et al. v. Drummond Company, 25 Mar 2015
- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Memorandum Opinion Granting Summary Judgment, 25 Jul 2013
- Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, 17 Sep 2012
- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: [PDF] Locarno Baloco, et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc., 3 Feb 2011
- Romero, et al. v. Drummond, et al. - Appellants' Opening Brief, 11 Dec 2007
- Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company - Complaint, 14 Mar 2002

- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: Juan Aquas Romero v. Drummond Company, 14 Mar 2007 [order unsealing certain case documents]
- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company, 14 Apr 2003 [order dismissing certain claims, declining to dismiss claims for extrajudicial killings and denial of rights to associate & organise]

 

Melo et al. v. Drummond Company

On 26 February 2013, family members of 34 Colombians killed by paramilitaries filed a complaint against Drummond in the US alleging that the company had hired the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) to protect Drummond’s Colombian mine operations in Cesar Province from civilians who lived in the area.  The complaint was brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) against Drummond and several of its officers.  The plaintiffs argued that Drummond was liable for aiding, abetting, conspiring with and having a relationship with the AUC, who are accused of extrajudicial killings, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.  Drummond denied the allegations and argued that the claim should be dismissed as US courts lack jurisdiction to hear the case.

On 26 April 2013, the plaintiffs submitted an amended complaint to the district court.  The company asked for the complaint to be dismissed.  On 15 January 2014, the court asked the parties why it should still hear the case given that in Daimler AG v. Bauman, the US Supreme Court ruled that the company’s ties with the US were not enough for the court to hear the case.  The plaintiffs concluded that all parties would benefit from the court’s assessment of the impact of Kiobel on three other similar Drummond ATS lawsuits pending, all of which could affect their claims.   On 4 February 2014, the district court stayed the case.

On 20 April 2015, after courts had decided two of the other Drummond ATS cases, the district court asked the parties to provide reasons on whether this case should be dismissed.  The plaintiffs argued that they had brought claims based on grounds other than ATS, which Kiobelwould have no impact on.  Drummond argued that all the claims should be dismissed.

On 26 January 2016, the district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims based on the decisions from the other Drummond lawsuits that were dismissed.  The plaintiffs appealed.  On 27 September 2016, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in part, and affirmed in part, the district court’s decision.  The appeals court said that the lower court could not summarily dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.  The court also found that corporations could not be sued under the TVPA, but that claims against Drummond’s officers could be considered.  The court also ruled that the ATS claim could be amended and refiled to meet the “touch and concern” test set by Kiobel.

 

Baker Botts LLP (Counsel for the defendants)
Brief of Appellees, 20 Jun 2016

International Rights Advocates (Counsel for the plaintiffs)
Melo et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc., Case information
11th Circuit Court of Appeals Issues Favorable Opinion in our case against Drummond, 27 Sep 2016
Appellants' Reply Brief, 22 Jul 2016
Appellants’ Opening Brief, 11 May 2016
First Amended Complaint, Terrence P. Collingsworth, International Rights Advocates & Eric J. Hager, Conrad & Scherer LLP, 26 Apr 2013
Plaintiff's Complaint, Thomas L. Carmichael, Carmichael Law Firm LLC, 26 Feb 2013

-  Opinion Issued on the Courts own Motion Opinion, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 27 Sep 2016

 

Criminal investigation against Drummond officials in Colombia

In October 2018, the Colombian Specialized Criminal Prosecutor's Office No. 247 reopened investigation against eight current and former Drummond officials over allegations of financing paramilitaries' war crimes in Colombia from 1996 to 2006. The company denied that it supported illegal armed groups in a statement and expressed willingness to cooperate with the authorities on the investigation.

- Drummond Officials Charged with Financing AUC War Crimes in Colombia, International Rights Advocates, 30 Oct 2018
- Colombia reopens probe into Alabama-based Drummond, Associated Press, Tuscaloosanews.com, 30 Oct 2018
- Colombia calls Drummond coal officials to testify on paramilitaries: source, Reuters, 30 Oct 2018
- Statement to the public opinion, Drummond, 30 Oct 2018

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Artículo
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Autor(a): Gwynne Skinner, Robert McCorquodale, Olivier De Schutter & Andie Lambe

The Access to Judicial Remedy (A2JR) Project set out to identify and analyze the barriers in the United States, Canada, and Europe…The detailed mapping exercise undertaken in the development of this Report shows that States are generally not fulfilling their obligation to ensure access to effective judicial remedies to victims of human rights violations by businesses operating outside their territory. Victims continue to face barriers that at times can completely block their access to an effective remedy…These barriers have been overcome in only some instances…Victims of human rights violations by business, wherever the violations occur, are entitled to full and effective access to judicial remedies. In order to provide this, each State should examine the barriers in their jurisdiction and consider the range of actions they can take to alleviate them, and in particular, the recommendations contained in this Report…[Refers to Alstom, Amesys (part of Bull), Anvil Mining (part of China Minmetals), Barrick Gold, Bull, Cambior, Cape PLC, Chevron, Chiquita, Daimler, DLH (Dalhoff Larsen & Horneman), Drummond, ExxonMobil, HudBay Minerals, Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin), Shell, Talisman, Texaco (part of Chevron), Thor Chemicals, Unocal (part of Chevron), Veolia Environnement (formerly Vivendi), Veolia Transport (part of Veolia Environnement), Walmart, Zijin]

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Autor(a): Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Welcome to the 10th issue of the Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin. To assist all those following corporate legal accountability issues, we send this bulletin to highlight key developments, new cases profiled on our site, updates to existing profiles, and other news. Our Corporate Legal Accountability Portal is an online information hub providing resources for non-lawyers as well as lawyers – including victims, advocates, NGOs, businesspeople, lawyers bringing lawsuits against companies and lawyers defending companies. The portal provides impartial, concise information about lawsuits against companies in which human rights abuses are alleged – its aim is to demystify these lawsuits. Each case profile includes materials from both the plaintiffs and defendants, to the extent they are available…This bulletin is now available in Spanish and French. [Refers to African Barrick Gold, Alstom, BP, CACI, Chevron, Coca-Cola, COMILOG (part of ERAMET), Daimler, Danzer, Dow Chemical, Drummond, ERAMET, Ford, HudBay Minerals, IBM, KBR, Ledesma, Mercedes-Benz (part of Daimler), Monterrico Metals, Nestlé, PA Child Care, Qosmos, Rio Tinto, Shell, Sinter Metal, SNCF, Texaco (part of Chevron), Thomson Safaris, Total, Union Carbide (part of Dow), Vedanta Resources, Veolia (part of Veolia Environnement), Veolia Environnement, Walmart]

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Autor(a): Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

This briefing highlights reports from a range of sources about how businesses have impacted human rights, positively and negatively, in Latin America & the Caribbean over the past two years. The briefing refers to most countries in Latin America. Amanda Romero, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s Latin America & the Caribbean Researcher based in Colombia and Julia Neiva, Brazil and Portuguese-speaking countries Researcher and Representative based in Brazil, provide our coverage of these countries. This is not a comprehensive overview. It flags some major issues, cases, developments and trends. For more details see our website, with sections on over 190 countries, more than 5000 companies, and 150 issues.

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Artículo
9 September 2013

[PDF] Empresas y Derechos Humanos en América Latina y el Caribe - Panorama sobre los acontecimientos más recientes

Autor(a): Centro de Información sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos

Este informe destaca los reportes de un variado rango de fuentes sobre los impactos (negativos y positivos) de las empresas sobre los derechos humanos en América Latina y el Caribe, en los dos últimos años. El informe hace referencia a la mayoría de países de América Latina. Amanda Romero, investigadora y representante para América Latina y el Caribe, con sede en Colombia, y Julia Neiva, investigadora y representante para Brasil y los países de habla portuguesa, con sede en Brasil, del Centro de Información sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos, hacen un cubrimiento de estos países. El presente informe no es exhaustivo, pero sí destaca algunos de los asuntos, casos, iniciativas y tendencias más importantes. Para mayores detalles, visite nuestro sitio web, en donde encontrará información sobre más de 190 países, más de 5.000 empresas, y 150 temas.

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Autor(a): Ryan Poe, Birmingham Business Journal (USA)

After a four-year legal battle, a U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Drummond Co. Inc. commissioned war crimes in Colombia. Northern Alabama District Court Judge David Proctor issued an opinion July 25 that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. et. al., effectively removed the case from the court's jurisdiction…In other words, Birmingham-based Drummond's "mere corporate presence" in the U.S. isn't enough to give U.S. courts jurisdiction over crimes that allegedly happened in Colombia…The complaint, filed on behalf of the families of victims in Colombia, accused Drummond Co. of aiding and abetting paramilitary forces in several killings, including the murders of two Drummond union officials…

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Autor(a): Compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Welcome to the 9th issue of the Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin. To assist all those following corporate legal accountability issues, we send this bulletin to highlight key developments, new cases profiled on our site, updates to existing profiles, and other news. Our Corporate Legal Accountability Portal is an online information hub providing resources for non-lawyers as well as lawyers – including victims, advocates, NGOs, businesspeople, lawyers bringing lawsuits against companies and lawyers defending companies. The portal provides impartial, concise information about lawsuits against companies in which human rights abuses are alleged – its aim is to demystify these lawsuits. Each case profile includes materials from both the plaintiffs and defendants, to the extent they are available.[Refers to adidas, Agua Mineral Chusmiza, Alstom, Areva, BASF, BP, CACI, Chevron, Chiquita, Drummond, DynCorp, ExxonMobil, HudBay Minerals, Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin), Rio Tinto, Shell, Tate & Lyle, Texaco (part of Chevron), Titan (now L-3), Vedanta Resources, Veolia Transport (part of Veolia Environnement)]

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Autor(a): Annie Kelly, Guardian (UK)

...the United Fruit Company slaughter stands as a monument in the turbulent history of human rights and business in Colombia. Now...could a new era be dawning?..."...the country's reputation as a place where business was interlaced with conflict, security and environmental or social justice issues is beginning to shift. As a place where business and human rights intersect, Colombia is now becoming something of a global leader." [says John Morrison of Institute of Human Rights and Business]...Colombian businesses and a new wave of CEOs understand...that social impact is now more important than any other investment they will make – perhaps the product of coming through decades of civil conflict...The country has proved serious about trying to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business...[and] the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights...According to some statistics, more than 80% of human rights violations in the past 10 years have been carried out in mining and energy regions in Colombia...In 2006...the Colombian Guidelines on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Guías Colombia) was launched by a group of businesses, civil society groups and the...government....Despite looking good on paper, Colombia still has much to prove in its quest to remodel itself as a global leader in human rights and business...Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist...Lawsuits have been filed against US companies including Coca Cola, Dole, and Drummond, for allegedly using paramilitaries to kill trade unionists. [also refers to Cerrejón (joint venture Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Glencore Xstrata)]

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Artículo
6 February 2013

Colombia: condena por asesinato de sindicalistas

Autor(a): Associated Press

Un juzgado penal condenó…a un ex contratista de la…Drummond como autor intelectual del asesinato de dos sindicalistas…en 2001…En su fallo, el juez…también condenó a Jaime Blanco Maya a pagar una multa…[por el] homicidio agravado y concierto para delinquir…de los sindicalistas Valmore Locarno…y Víctor Hugo Orcasita…asesinados a tiros por un grupo de paramilitares…Blanco siempre ha dicho que si bien tuvo nexos con paramilitares, él no tuvo responsabilidad directa…y que…[los asesinatos] fueron ordenados desde la propia cúpula de la Drummond….[pero la empresa] siempre ha dicho…que es inocente" porque "jamás ha hecho pagos ilegales a organizaciones al margen de la ley". En la misma decisión, el juez… ordenó a la Fiscalía General investigar si el presidente de la empresa… Garry Drummond, y tres de sus empleados…James Adkins, así como los colombianos Luis Carlos Rodríguez y Augusto Jiménez- tuvieron alguna responsabilidad en el asesinato de los dos sindicalistas…

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Artículo
1 October 2012

Informe de ONG Cinep sobre Minería, Conflictos Sociales y Violación a los Derechos Humanos en Colombia

Autor(a): Compilado por el Centro de Información sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos

El Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular, CINEP, una ONG de Colombia, publicó el informe “Minería, Conflictos Sociales y Violación a los Derechos Humanos en Colombia. Informe Especial del CINEP/ Programa por la Paz”, en octubre del 2012. El informe, de 25 páginas, dice: “…[Este] Informe Especial sobre minería aborda algunos de los conflictos sociales que emergen en el proceso de convertir a Colombia en un país minero…La conflictividad exige mostrar los alcances de las formas de resistencia social a partir de la movilización social contra la minería, señalar violaciones a los derechos humanos que se presentan en zonas mineras…Se abordan en este documento algunos conflictos del sector minero-energético: el petróleo, el oro y el carbón, por los altos riesgos ambientales, sociales y de exacerbación de la violencia por el control de los recursos…”[El informe se refiere a varias empresas: Zandor Capital, Frontino Gold (parte de Medoro Resources, ahora Gran Colombia Gold), Drummond, Muriel Mining, Anglo Gold Ashanti, GreyStar (ahora Eco Oro Minerals)]

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Artículo
3 May 2012

Drummond, multinacional estadounidense implicada en asesinato de sindicalistas colombianos

Autor(a): Verdadabierta y Colectivo de Abogados - Cajar y El Pilón [Colombia]

[Jaime] Blanco Maya…acusó a…la empresa norteamericana de entregar dineros a las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia a través de su empresa Industrial de Servicios y Alimentos, ISA...

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