International Law

The Foundation has paid careful attention to cases where United States law has been manipulated to allow individuals to take advantage of our justice system for financial or other selfish gain. A common example of this activity is the abuse of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), a U.S. statute drafted in 1789, originally thought to have been created to address piracy on ships, which had been dormant for nearly 200 years before being used again by special interests. In an ideal world, the ATS is a good resource to provide recourse for blatant violations of international law (or “law of nations”), such as genocide, war crimes, torture, and other crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, the ATS is now being used foreign citizens living in the United States to file suits in federal courts based on overseas events having no connection to the United States or events that occur in the United States where the foreign citizens claims a harm occurred. The ATS has been used by individuals to avoid law enforcement in the U.S. and to sue corporations for human rights violations in Papua New Guinea, Australia, Sudan and Indonesia and elsewhere unrelated to United States activity. Conversely, we have argued in support of American citizens to sue other countries for damages when atrocious harm has occurred, for example those American citizens who were tortured by Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Read about these Foundation legal actions and more in our Amicus Briefs below.

Case Name:
RJR Nabisco v European Community
Date Filed:
12/18/2015
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) cannot be used by foreign parties to move international civil disputes to U.S. federal courts, thereby increasing its cost and burden. RICO is now being used by international individuals and organizations in place of their formerly wrongful use of the Alien Tort Statute, which AEF succeeded in blocking in many cases. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Nestle U.S.A., Inc. v. Doe I
Date Filed:
10/22/2015
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that just because a chocolate manufacturer (Nestle) purchased cocoa from Ivory Coast farmers, they should not be held liable by the Alien Tort Statute for any human rights violations inflicted by Ivory Coast farmers on their workers. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain
Date Filed:
10/06/2013
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued in support of a police officer who planned the capture of a Mexican citizen abroad allegedly associated with the kidnapping and murder of a U.S. DEA special agent by the Mexican drug cartel. The Mexican citizen filed a lawsuit against the police officer under the Alien Torts Statute alleging violations of international law. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum
Date Filed:
08/08/2012
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued here that the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) does not permit citizens of Nigeria to sue Royal Dutch Petroleum which does business in Nigeria for mistreatment of them by their own government. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Rio Tinto plc v. Sarei
Date Filed:
12/28/2011
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that a corporation (Rio Tinto) should not be held liable for human rights violations committed by the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia simply because they provided financial support to security forces. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co.
Date Filed:
04/06/2011
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued here that the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and federal law does not permit nonresident aliens to file tort suits against Firestone in federal court based on overseas events having no connection to the United States. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Doe v. Exxon Mobil Corp.
Date Filed:
11/16/2010
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Foundation Action:

We argued here that Indonesian citizens cannot use the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) to sue a corporation for providing financial support to security forces to protect its facilities in Indonesia. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Goodyear Luxembourg Tires, SA v. Brown
Date Filed:
11/09/2010
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, AEF argued that U.S. courts can not be used to file lawsuits against three tire manufacturers operating in Luxembourg, Turkey and France for an accident that occurred in France, just because tires have been sold in the United States. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Iraq v. Beaty
Date Filed:
03/30/2009
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued here that U.S. military personnel who were tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime should be allowed to sue Iraq for damages. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Matar v. Dichter
Date Filed:
11/19/2007
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued that Palestinians cannot use the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) to file a lawsuit against a former Israeli cabinet officer for military actions taken in the Gaza Strip. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy Inc.
Date Filed:
05/08/2007
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued that an oil company (Talisman Energy) cannot be held liable for abuses inflicted in Sudan by their Government in the absence of evidence that it intended that those violations be committed. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Doe v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Date Filed:
05/05/2006
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that Wal-Mart should not be held liable for working conditions of individuals that do not work for Walmart but rather overseas companies for that sold goods or services to Walmart. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
VIctory

Case Name:
Medellin v. State of Texas
Date Filed:
02/28/2005
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued against allowing a criminal defendant, properly convicted of murder and sentenced to death for killing two teenage girls, to use international law as a basis for overturning his conviction. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory