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
1 June 2010

[PDF] Acceso a la Justicia: Casos de Abusos de Derechos Humanos por Parte de Empresas [Colombia]

Autor(a): Comisión Internacional de Juristas

En este informe se describen los diferentes puntos de acceso a la justicia colombiana en casos de abusos a los derechos humanos por parte de las empresas y se analizan los obstáculos más importantes para hacer efectivo dicho acceso...La estructura del informe es la siguiente: primero, se describen todas las rutas de acceso a la justicia previstas el ordenamiento jurídico colombiano para hacer frente a los abusos cometidos por empresas. Segundo, se describen los obstáculos normativos, logísticos, políticos y sociales con los que se pueden encontrar quienes pretenden acceder a la administración de justicia en los casos de abusos mencionados. Por último, se exponen algunas conclusiones y recomendaciones para eliminar y superar los obstáculos planteados. [se refiere a Bavaria (parte de SABMiller), Chiquita, Coca Cola, Del Monte, Dole, Drummond, Panamco (parte de Coca-Cola FEMSA), Postobón y Embotelladora de Santander]

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Autor(a): Patrick Doris & Maziar Jamnejad, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer law firm

Growing pressure from consumers and other stakeholders for responsible behaviour by corporates on labour rights and conditions suggests that companies should prepare for far greater scrutiny on ethical performance... ]C]ompanies who fail to meet both legal and ethical standards are increasingly at risk of lawsuits, boycotts and blacklisting [refers to Drummond, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Cosan, Lidl]

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Autor(a): Jonathan Drimmer, Steptoe & Johnson, released by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform

Over the past 15 years, there has been a sharp rise in lawsuits brought against United States companies, as well as foreign companies with a substantial U.S. presence, that are premised on alleged personal or environmental injuries that occur overseas...With increasing frequency, plaintiffs, their attorneys, and their advocates are employing aggressive out-of court tactics that approach, straddle, and sometimes cross ethical lines in seeking to gain litigation advantages....The tactics...have clearly demonstrable patterns. Among them are: Aggressive media tactics...Community organizing tactics...Investment tactics...Political tactics...Fraudulent misconduct...[refers to AirScan, Archer Daniels Midland, Bridgestone, Bridgestone-Firestone (part of Bridgestone), Brylane (part of Pinault Printemps-Redoute), Cargill, Chevron, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Del Monte Foods, Dole, Dow Chemical, Drummond, ExxonMobil, Gap, Gulf Oil, Levi Strauss, Mercedes-Benz (part of Daimler), Mobil Oil (part of ExxonMobil), Nestlé, Occidental Petroleum, Petroecuador, Pfizer, PPR (formerly Pinault-Printemps-Redoute), Rio Tinto, Shell, Target, Texaco (part of Chevron), Union Carbide (part of Dow), Unocal (part of Chevron), Wal-Mart, Yahoo!]

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Autor(a): Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Today at the United Nations in Geneva, the non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is launching the first global information hub on “Business, Conflict & Peace”...Chris Avery, Director of the Resource Centre, said: “We are giving this subject priority because it is in conflict zones where abuses are most severe, where the risk of complicity is greatest, and where victims are the most vulnerable. We created this portal to bring together in one place all the best information about how companies are impacting human rights (positively or negatively) in conflict and post-conflict zones – and to provide guidance on how to avoid abuses”...The portal explains key initiatives in this field.

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Artículo
2 February 2010

Asegurado supuesto asesino de sindicalistas de la Drummond [Colombia]

Autor(a): El Espectador [Colombia]

Por el asesinatos de dos líderes sindicales de la multinacional Drummond en el Cesar, fue cobijado con medida de aseguramiento...José Aristides Peinado Martínez, alias "El Guache". Según el ente acusador, el indiciado es responsable del crimen perpetrado contra el presidente y vicepresidente [Valmore Locarno Rodríguez y Víctor Hugo Orcasita Amaya] de esa organización de trabajadores [Sintramienergética], ocurrido hace nueve años...

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Autor(a): Yasmine Gado, BADIL Resource Center

One of the most important legal challenges today is the battle to hold transnational corporations (TNCs) accountable for their involvement in human rights violations. Efforts are currently being made by a variety of actors in what is referred to as the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement…While the resources of these companies are vast and they are largely immune to democratic processes, gains are being made as corporate management responds to the cumulative impact of these efforts…This article summarizes the latest developments in each of these areas. The discussion on domestic law will cover U.S. law; however, several recent surveys compare the laws of different domestic legal systems in the area of corporate accountability for human rights violations. [refers to Ahava, Alstom, Caterpillar, Chevron, Connex (part of Veolia), Dexia, Drummond, Elbit Systems, Fidelty Investments, General Motors, Lev Leviev, Motorola, Shell, Talisman, Unocal (part of Chevron), Veolia, Yahoo!]

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Autor(a): Russell Hubbard, Birmingham News [USA]

Drummond Co. said Tuesday it is confident of victory in legal battles over its Colombia operation, which has been the subject of considerable litigation…The developments have stacked up quickly this week in what has been an odyssey of litigation related to Drummond's 4,000-employee mine near La Loma, Colombia: Monday, a judge in U.S. District Court in Birmingham dismissed one civil suit filed against the company, one alleging Drummond was involved in the murders of three labor union leaders at the Colombian coal mine…Also Monday, the judge ruled that relatives of victims of violence in Colombia have until Nov. 20 to amend another suit.

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Autor(a): John Bringardner, Law.com

I think for corporations, the issue of human rights has been in the forefront for some time, particularly for those with big names...For the lawyers who advise them, the matter has not been as front and central...In many ways it's ironic that the focus is on...bigger companies. Yes, they do bad as well as good, but the real problem for the corporate world, and ultimately for lawyers, will be how you deal with those who don't have reputations, that aren't big enough --often the subcontractors and the sub-subcontractors of the big firms themselves. [refers to Shell, Drummond, Cisco, Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft]

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Artículo
18 September 2009

[PDF] Piden investigar a directivos de la Drummond (multinacional norteamericana) por el asesinato de dos sindicalistas colombianos

Autor(a): Caracol [Colombia]

Un juez de Bogotá le pidió a la Fiscalía que investigue si cuatro directivos de la multinacional Drummond, tuvieron alguna responsabilidad en el asesinato de dos sindicalistas [Valmore Locarno y Víctor Hugo Orcasita, directivos de Sintramienergética] que trabajaban para la empresa, crimen cometido por el paramilitarismo en marzo de 2001....[E]l juez le pidió a la Fiscalía que investigue "la posible participación delictiva de...Jean Jakim, Gary Drummond, Augusto Jiménez y Alfredo Araújo". La compulsa de copias fue ordenada con base en la declaración del [paramilitar] Jairo de Jesús Charris Castro...Drummond desmiente las declaraciones del ex paramilitar...

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Autor(a): James Parks, AFL-CIO [USA]

Eight long years after Colombian trade union leaders Valmore Locarno Rodriguez and Victor Hugo Orcasita Amaya were assassinated, those directly responsible for these heinous crimes are being punished...yesterday, Alcides Maneul Mattos Tavares, alias “el Samario,” confessed to having participated as one of the gunmen. The other assassin, Jairo Charris Jesus, was sentenced Aug. 7 to 30 years in prison...Both men were members of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), the...paramilitary organization...Locarno and Orcasita, president and vice president...of Sintramienergica, the mine and energy workers union, were killed in March 2001. Both worked for...Drummond...In his trial, Charris explained that the murders had been planned along with Colombian and American company executives. Drummond has denied all links to paramilitar[ies]...A U.S. federal district court and appeals court found Drummond not guilty of playing a part in the murders. In May, an attorney for the families of Locarno and Orcasita filed a U. S. lawsuit against Drummond...

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