Alien Tort Statute
Throwback Thursday: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.
Ten years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., applying the presumption against extraterritoriality to the implied cause of action for human rights violations under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). In Kiobel, the Court began to whittle down the cause of action it had…Continue Reading
Boston Jury Awards $15.5 Million in a Transnational Human Rights Case
Last month we reported on a sensible decision by Judge Allison D. Burroughs of the District of Massachusetts rejecting a defendant’s vague invocations of international comity as a basis for abstention. That decision cleared the way for trial on the plaintiffs’ claims that the defendant, Jean Morose Viliena, targeted them and their families for extrajudicial…Continue Reading
Throwback Thursday: Professor William Casto on the Origins of the Alien Tort Statute
In the spring of 1986, Professor William Casto published an article in the Connecticut Law Review entitled The Federal Courts’ Protective Jurisdiction Over Torts Committed in Violation of the Law of Nations. Casto’s article was the first to explore the origins of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) in detail, and despite the many law reviewpages…Continue Reading
District Court Dismisses Killing Claims Against MBS
Yesterday, the District Court for the District of Columbia (Judge John Bates) dismissed a lawsuit brought by Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) and the widow of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered by security agents at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. The plaintiffs sued Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and…Continue Reading
State Department Recognizes Head-of-State Immunity for MBS
Earlier today, the U.S. State Department recognized that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) is entitled to head-of-state immunity as Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia in a case brought by Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) and the widow of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered by Saudi security agents at the Saudi…Continue Reading
The Case for Attracting Litigation Business to the United States
U.S. state and federal courts routinely and reliably enforce “inbound” forum selection clauses (FSCs)—that is, if a party sues in a U.S. court designated by a contractual forum selection clause, courts will hear the case rather than dismissing on the basis of forum non conveniens. In a recent post, John Coyle urged federal actors to…Continue Reading
District Court Dismisses Another Case Against MBS for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
Two weeks ago, while King Salman was appointing Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) as Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia in an apparent bid to secure him head-of-state immunity in a suit brought by Jamal Khashoggi’s widow, the judge in a different case quietly dismissed another plaintiff’s claims against MBS for lack of personal jurisdiction….Continue Reading
MBS’s Appointment as Saudi Prime Minister Gives Him Head-of-State Immunity
On Tuesday, King Salman appointed Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) as Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. The appointment makes MBS Saudi Arabia’s head of government, thereby entitling him to “head of state” immunity under U.S. law and customary international law. The appointment comes just days before an October 3 court deadline for the U.S….Continue Reading
Is MBS Entitled to Head of State Immunity?
Editor’s Note: This article also appears in Just Security. In 2018, Saudi security agents brutally murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) approved the operation. In 2020, Khashoggi’s widow and a non-profit organization that he helped found sued MBS and…Continue Reading
Has the Alien Tort Statute Made a Difference?
In a globalized and interconnected world, human rights litigation has, by necessity, become transnational. For decades, the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) was viewed as a beacon of American justice for foreign victims of human rights violations. However, a series of Supreme Court decisions—most recently the paired cases of Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe and Cargill,…Continue Reading