The World in U.S. Courts: Fall 2013 - Alien Tort Statute (ATS)
The district court for the Northern District of Alabama dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction human rights violation claims asserted under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victims Protection Act. Plaintiffs claim to be the legal heirs of individuals killed by a Colombian paramilitary organization as a result of an alleged agreement between the paramilitary and the defendant, a United States mining company, to provide protection for the company’s Colombian mines. Plaintiffs alleged that the U.S. company conspired with and aided and abetted the paramilitary from the United States in violating international law. Reviewing the record, the court found no evidence that the defendant made decisions or took action in the United States in furtherance of alleged human rights violations in Columbia. Citing Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 133 S.Ct. 1659 (2013), the court held that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the claims because they solely concerned acts and events that occurred outside the United States, in the territory of another sovereign state.