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USA: Supreme Court seeks to protect companies from lawsuits by victims of abuse overseas in case against chocolate makers over alleged child slavery

"U.S. Supreme Court signals interest in child-slavery cocoa lawsuit", 14 Jan 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court signaled interest in giving companies a broader shield from lawsuits by victims of overseas atrocities...on a case stemming from child slavery on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. 

Nestle’s U.S. unit and Cargill Inc. are urging the court to end a suit that accuses them of complicity in the use of forced child labor...The Supreme Court on Monday asked U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco to advise whether the justices should hear the companies’ appeals.

The case would test a centuries-old law, the 1789 Alien Tort Statute...The court decided in 2013 that the law generally doesn't apply beyond U.S. borders, and in 2018 that foreign corporations can't be sued in that context. 

But a federal appeals court said the allegations against Nestle and Cargill might have enough of a U.S. connection if the plaintiffs amended their lawsuit to provide more specifics.

“The allegations paint a picture of overseas slave labor that defendants perpetuated from headquarters in the United States,”...

…The companies are accused of aiding and abetting slave labor by giving Ivory Coast farmers financial assistance in the expectation that cocoa prices would stay low. The suit alleges the companies were fully aware that child slavery was being used…

Cargill said the plaintiffs “do not allege they worked on a farm from which Cargill purchased cocoa or to which Cargill provided any form of assistance.”…

 

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