TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apartheid Suit Continues

As MSNBC (via AP) reports, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Second Circuit decision allowing an Alien Tort Claims Act suit to proceed against various banks and corporations based on their alleged "aiding and abetting" of the apartheid system in South Africa by providing loans and goods.   The Supreme Court did not reach the merits of the appeal, but rather was forced to affirm when four Justices recused:

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy provided no explanation for their decision not to take part in the case.

But those justices have ties to Bank of America Corp., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co., Credit Suisse, Exxon Mobil Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Nestle SA, among nearly three dozen companies that asked the high court to step in.

Kennedy does not hold stock in any affected company, but his son, Gregory, is a managing director at Credit Suisse. Kennedy sat out a case last term involving the investment bank.

The case returns to the lower courts for further proceedings.  In a two-part series on Findlaw, Tony Sebok analyzed the Second Circuit's decision and argued that the win may prove to be a "pyrrhic victory" for the plaintiffs. (Prior posts here and here).


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