The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum on October 1, 2012, which is the first day of oral arguments. After the first time around, the court added another question for briefing and arguments, as explained in this SCOTUSBlog post.
October is a lovely time to visit D.C. – still a little bit on the hot side, but not the festering swamp climate you get during July and August. Also, the Nationals are playing a home game against the Phillies. The Nats do have a nice ballpark.
Fresh off the (virtual) presses of the Washington University in St. Louis Global Studies Law Review. From the abstract:
This Article discusses whether jurisdiction exists pursuant to the Alien Tort Claims Act (“ATCA”) for suits claiming death and serious injury arising out of these hazardous products.
Slawotsky admits that pretty clear that the courts currently do not believe ATCA covers product liability. This is true both under the originalist reading (which limits cognizable offenses to those that existed when the law passed the first Congress in 1789) or the more expansive modern reading that includes a wider range of maleficence. Still, it’s an interesting idea.
Via Courthouse News Service:
A federal judge refused to stay a lawsuit in which three Cubans claim a shipyard on the island of Curacao virtually enslaved them to pay off Cuba’s debt to the company.
In their 2006 lawsuit, the Cuban workers said they were kidnapped and trafficked to Curacao, where the Cuban government forced them and many others to work for Curacao Drydock in slave-like conditions on ships and oil platforms, for 112 hours a week. The men claimed they were never paid and worked for 15 years to satisfy a debt Cuba owed Curacao Drydock. They eventually escaped and made it to the United States.
After the workers sued the shipyard under the Alien Tort Statute and the RICO Act, Curacao Drydock unsuccessfully tried to move the case to Curacao. The company then abandoned its defense of the lawsuit and lost by default. The district court in Miami ordered Curacao Drydock to pay the plaintiffs $80 million.
Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King agreed that the appeal was premature, because the court had yet to rule on the issue of sovereign immunity.
- Garcia v. Sebelius, the ATS case regarding medical experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s, was rejected by the D.C. Circuit. (complaint)
- Jones Day’s Meil Felder writes an entry in SCOTUSblog’s online Kiobel symposium in which he argues that Sosa is a bit more restrictive than generally understood:
First, Sosa makes clear that an ATS cause of action exists, if at all, only to the extent created by the courts as federal common law; violations of international law do not necessarily, or even presumptively, give rise to a cause of action. Second, Sosa (correctly) recognizes the limited and deeply practical purpose of the ATS : to prevent adverse consequences from the narrow category of law of nations violations for which the United States would be held responsible by the sovereign of the injured alien. Taken together, these principles make it very hard to justify a federal common law cause of action for wrongs against aliens by their own governments.
- Beth Stephens, Law Professor at Rutgers-Camden uses familiar tools of statutory construction and reaches the opposite view.
Here’s an update on Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, a case initially reported here in March. As you may recall, it involves violence against LGBT Ugandans allegedly incited by Scott Lively, an American associated with Abiding Truth Ministries. Lively is represented by Liberty Counsel, “an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989.”
The defendant’s motion to dismiss for Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively is available here. The supporting memorandum is available here.