Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of ATS Claim Alleging Torture of Sikhs in India

The World in U.S. Courts: Winter 2015 - Alien Tort Statute (ATS)/Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA)/Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA)/Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA)

Sikhs for Justice, Inc. v. Nath, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, December 19, 2014

This appeal from a decision reported in the Summer 2014 issue of The World in U.S. Courts considered claims by the families of Sikhs allegedly tortured by the defendants in India.

The Court of Appeals in New York first noted that the plaintiffs had not substantively briefed their objections to the dismissal of their VTVPA claim, and for that reason their appeal of that aspect of the district Court’s decision would not be considered. With respect to the plaintiffs’ claim under the ATS, the Court of Appeals noted that the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2013 Kiobel case had ruled that the ATS generally did not have extraterritorial effect and would only support a claim if the actions complained of “touch and concern” the territory of the U.S. The Court of Appeals concluded that that this standard had not been met, as the conduct at issue was the alleged torture of Indian nationals by Indian nationals in India. The allegation that certain of the defendants maintained a corporate presence in the U.S. and conducted activities in this country was deemed irrelevant to the question, whose proper focus was on the conduct alleged to have given rise to the claim.

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