When I said here that ATS cases might end up at the USSC again, I did not think less than a week later: on Monday, the USSC granted certiorari in DaimlerChrysler AG v Bauman. The issue as summarised over at the SCOTUS blog (which has superb further analysis), is: Whether it violates due process for a court to exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant in the forum state.
Chief Justice Roberts’s and concurring opinions in Kiobel leave room for further distinguishing – which is what might happen in DaimlerChrysler. The Court had presumably seen sitting on the DaimlerChrysler case until it had decided Kiobel. DaimlerChrysler however will probably have a wider impact than the ATS jurisdictional issues. Accepting jurisdiction against corporations on the basis of the actions of a subsidiary present in the forum State but unrelated to the subsidiary which allegedly violated the law elsewhere, can also apply in an internal US setting.
DaimlerChrysler Ag is a German company, and it was sued in federal court in California for alleged human rights violations in Argentina for actions by a subsidiary in that country. The basis for suing the company in the U.S. was that it has another subsidiary that sells the company’s autos in California.
Of note is also that the Supreme Court vacated Rio Tinto and sent it back to the Ninth Circuit to be decided on the basis of the Kiobel finding.