The World in U.S. Courts: Fall 2013 - Alien Tort Statute (ATS)
The district court for the Southern District of New York dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction human rights violation claims asserted under the Alien Tort Statute and RICO. Plaintiff is the former Prime Minister of Ukraine. The defendant, a substantial stakeholder in an international natural gas company, was alleged to have orchestrated the arrest, detention, malicious prosecution, and arbitrary arrest of plaintiff as a result of plaintiff’s unfavorable renegotiation of Ukraine’s natural gas contracts with Russia. The complaint also named U.S. defendants who allegedly aided the racketeering scheme by laundering money, including through U.S. bank accounts. 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 U.S., in the territory of another sovereign state. The court reasoned that the minimal U.S. contacts alleged did not overcome the presumption against the extraterritorial application of domestic law.