Human Rights Litigation

Congress Amends the TVPRA to Correct Ninth Circuit’s Erroneous Ruling in Ratha

Last year, in Ratha v. Phatthana Seafood, the Ninth Circuit held that civil liability under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) does not extend to those who attempt to benefit from forced labor. After the court denied en banc review, the Human Trafficking Legal Center and other human and workers’ rights organizations asked Congress…

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Ninth Circuit Allows Human Rights Claims Against Cisco to Proceed

There may yet be life in the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The Ninth Circuit recently held, in Doe I v. Cisco Systems, Inc., that Chinese practitioners of Falun Gong could go forward with claims of aiding and abetting human rights violations against Cisco Systems, which designed and built a surveillance system for the People’s Republic…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Officials Who Kidnapped Hotel Rwanda Hero Are Not Immune from Suit

In 1994, Paul Rusesabagina was the manager of a hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. During the genocide, he sheltered 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees, all of whom survived. His courage inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” and in 2005 President Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Rusesabagina became a human rights advocate and vocal critic…

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Rejecting Comity-Based Abstention in Human Rights Cases

Defendants in transnational human rights cases may seek dismissal on a great many bases—so many, in fact, that it can be hard to keep them all straight. One growing source of confusion is the argument that a case should be dismissed based on “comity.” The problem is that comity isn’t a single doctrine. But because…

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Climate Change Litigation Is Global

As readers of this blog may know, climate litigation is exploding across U.S. courts. States, municipalities, nonprofits, investors, children, and myriad other plaintiffs are bringing lawsuits against private actors for contributing to global climate change and against government officials for failing to take steps to stop it. I have written on this blog about one…

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Choice of Law in the American Courts in 2022

The thirty-sixth annual survey on choice of law in the American courts is now available on SSRN. The survey covers significant cases decided in 2022 on choice of law, party autonomy, extraterritoriality, international human rights, foreign sovereign immunity, foreign official immunity, the act of state doctrine, adjudicative jurisdiction, and the recognition and enforcement of foreign…

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MBS’s Immunity and the Subject Matter Jurisdiction Problem

As previously discussed at TLB, a federal district court recently dismissed claims against Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) arising from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. When the claims were filed, MBS was merely Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and not entitled to head-of-state immunity. MBS was subsequently appointed Prime Minister, however, a position that does…

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