From SCOTUSblog: Argument analysis: Justices send mixed messages on corporate liability for allegedly aiding child slavery abroad
The Supreme Court heard oral argument on Tuesday in a pair of cases, Nestlé USA v. Doe I and Cargill, Inc. v. Doe I, that ask whether a lawsuit against American corporations under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreigners to bring lawsuits in U.S. courts for serious violations of international law, can continue. The plaintiffs in the case are six former child slaves in Ivory Coast, who contend that the defendants, both U.S. food giants, facilitated human-rights abuses on the cocoa plantations where the youths worked. Although the Supreme Court in the past has indicated that the kinds of claims that can be brought under the ATS are relatively limited, after nearly 90 minutes of debate today several justices appeared reluctant to rule that U.S. corporations like Nestlé and Cargill can never be sued under the statute. At the same time, it seemed that the two companies might nonetheless eke out a narrow win in this case, as some justices appeared skeptical that the plaintiffs’ allegations were enough to allow the case to proceed.