TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Iraqi Tort Reform By Executive Order

This interesting piece by Anthony Sebok and Claire Kelly (both at Brooklyn) contends that President Bush's executive order 13303 went too far:

. . . EO 13303 is now receiving scrutiny from watchdog groups. They fear that it may be used to limit the accountability of corporations doing business in Iraq.

Their fears are reasonable, as we will explain. In particular, it is possible the Executive Order will be used to cut off tort victims' ability to sue corporations working in Iraq.

And that's not the only problem with the Executive Order; there are two others. First, EO 13303 sets a terrible precedent for the abuse of the executive's power over private litigation in the context of national security. Second, it is yet another example of what Professor Sebok has described on this [Findlaw] site as the Republican penchant for "sneaky tort reform."

After comparing this EO to previous EOs that merely suspended, rather than extinguished, claims (as the authors contend this one does), they conclude that the EO seeks to place the financial burden of rebuilding Iraq disproportionately on tort victims who ordinarily could seek compensation in U.S. courts -- in other words, it arguably blocks suit by U.S. citizens against U.S. companies in U.S. courts for torts committed in Iraq.

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