District Court Allows ATS Suit to Proceed Where Actions Supporting Alleged Violations in Sri Lanka Were Taken in the U.S.

The World in U.S. Courts: Summer 2014 - Alien Tort Statute (ATS)/Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA)/Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA)/Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA)

Krishanti v. Rajaratnam, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, April 28, 2014

Plaintiffs are victims of bombing attacks committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (“LTTE”), which is classified by the U.S. Government as a terrorist organization. Defendants are individuals and a Sri Lanka based non-governmental organization that maintains offices in the U.S., all of which allegedly provided financial support to LTTE. The plaintiffs filed suit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey claiming among other things violations of the ATS based on violations of international law.

The defendants first argued that the court lacked jurisdiction under the ATS because the injuries giving rise to the suit and the conduct of LTTE in allegedly causing them occurred in Sri Lanka. While the Court agreed that the ATS did not have extraterritorial effect, it noted that the basis for the suit was actions taken by the defendants in the U.S.

[Editor’s note: The Krishanti case is also addressed in this issue in connection with its discussion of personal jurisdiction and the doctrine of forum non conveniens.]

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