Friday, October 9, 2009
Decision of interest: Prudential limitation on standing bars U.S. lawsuit by non-resident aliens harmed abroad
In a decision that is already generating controversy, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has granted the defendants' motion to dismiss in Doe v. Exxon Mobil Corp. (No. 07-CV-1022). The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs -- citizens of Aceh, Indonesia -- were shot, assaulted, and/or detained by Indonesian soldiers who were acting as the defendants' security personnel for a natural gas field in Aceh.
Last week's order dismissed these claims under what the Court described as "the general rule that non-resident aliens have no standing to sue in United States courts." It distinguished a slew of cases where non-resident aliens had indeed sued in U.S. courts, reasoning that those cases had not explicitly addressed the question of prudential standing.
(Hat Tip: Perry Bechky)