October 30, 2007
Suit Against Multinationals for Conduct During Apartheid Upheld
The Second Circuit has overturned the dismissal of class action lawsuits by three groups of plaintiffs against various multinational companies claiming that the companies "actively and willingly collaborated with the government of South Africa in maintaining a repressive, racially based system known as 'apartheid'." The plaintiffs bought claims for violations of international law, the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), Torture Victims Protection Act (ATVPA) and RICO. The Multi District Litigation Panel transferred all the actions to the Southern District of New York, which dismissed all the claims. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the TVPA claims. The ATCA claims, however, were upheld by the Second Circuit. Importantly, the Second Circuit upheld a theory of aiding and abetting liability under the ATCA. The opinion was per curiam, with Judges Katzmann and Hall filing concurring opinions and Judge Korman (sitting by designation) filing an opinion concurring only in the dismissal of the TVPA claims and dissenting from the remainder of the opinion.
The case is Khulumani v. Barclay Nat. Bank Ltd., --- F.3d ----, 2007 WL 2985101 (2d Cir., Oct. 12, 2007). The opinion is available on the 2nd Circuit website here.
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