Posts Tagged Rio Tinto
I have reported before (search tag ‘CSR’ or ‘ATS) on the personal jurisdiction cases in US litigation. The United States Supreme Court this morning held in Bristol-Meyers Squibb, BMS for short. For background see earlier reporting in this post. California was held not to have jurisdiction for claims brought by non-residents. In her dissenting Opinion justice Sotomayor notes the important impact of the ruling, suggesting that a corporation that engages in a nationwide course of conduct cannot now be held accountable in a state court by a group of injured people unless all of those people were injured in the forum State. Precedent evidently includes Bauman.
Judgment and opinion include many interesting takes on personal jurisdiction and how it should be managed.
Kenneth Argentieri and Yuanyou (Sunny) Yang have an interesting suggestion here, that ‘plaintiffs will continue to develop creative arguments to obtain jurisdiction over defendants in their preferred jurisdictions, for example, by arguing that a corporation’s registration to do business in a state or designation of an agent to accept service in a state constitute consent to the jurisdiction in that state. Circuit and state courts are currently split on this issue, and the United States Supreme Court has not yet ruled on it.’ We are not a the end of the personal jurisdiciton road.
02-md-1499, Alien Tort Statute, Apartheid, BMS, Bristol Meyers, Colonialism, Comity, Corporate social responsibility, CSR, Daimler, DaimlerChrysler, DaimlerChrysler v Bauman, Extraterritoriality, Germany, http://opiniojuris.org/wp-content/uploads/17-Apr-SDNY-Opinion.pdf, https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-466_1qm1.pdf, Human rights, In re South African Apartheid Litigation, Jurisdiction, Kiobel, Lungisile Ntsebeza et al v Ford General motors and IBM, Namibia, Piercing the corporate veil, Regulation 1215/2012, Rio Tinto, SC, SCOTUS, Tort, United States Supreme Court, USSC
Update 21 June 2016 see also application with respect to the extraterritorial impact of the US ‘Rico’ (anti-racketeering) Act in RJR Nabisco, Inc. V European Community.
In Ranza v Nike, the Court of Appeal for the ninth circuit confirmed the high hurdle to establish personal jurisdiction over foreign corporations in the US, following the Supreme Court’s decisions in Kiobel and Bauman /Daimler. Trey Childress has good summary here and I am happy largely to refer.
Loredana Ranza is a US citisen, resident in the EU (first The Netherlands; Germany at the time of the court’s decision). She seeks to sue against her Dutch employer, Nike BV, and its parent corporation, Nike inc. for alleged violation of federal laws prohibiting sex and age discrimination. The Dutch equality Commission had earlier found the allegations unfounded under Dutch law.
Of particular interest are the Court’s views on the attributability test /piercing the corporate veil following Daimler and Kiobel. The Court held (p.15 ff) that prior to Daimler, personal jurisdiction over the mother company could be established using either the agency or the alter ego test, with the former now no longer available following Daimler. Under the Agency test, effectively a type of abus de droit /fraus /fraud, plaintiff needed to show that the subsidiary performed services which were sufficiently important to the foreign corporation that if it did not have a representative to perform them, the corporation’s own officials would undertake to perform substantially similar services. Daimler, the Court suggested in Ranza, held that the agency test leads to too broad a jurisdictional sweep. That leaves the alter ego test: effectively, whether the actions prima facie carried out by the subsidiary, are in fact carried out by the mother company for it exercises a degree of control over the daughter which renders that daughter the mother’s alter ego. Not so here, on the facts of the case: Nike Inc, established in Oregon, is heavily involved in Nike BV’s macromanagement, but not so ‘enmeshed’ in its routine management of day-to-day operation, that the two companies should be treated as a single enterprise for the purposes of jurisdiction.
For good measure, the Court also confirmed application of dismissal of jurisdiction on the basis of forum non conveniens.
764 F. 3d 129, Alien Tort Statute, alter ego, attributability, Comity, Corporate social responsibility, CSR, DaimlerChrysler, DaimlerChrysler v Bauman, daugther company, Extraterritoriality, FNC, Forum non conveniens, http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2015/07/16/13-35251.pdf, http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/11-965_1qm2.pdf, https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/15-138?utm_source=@USSupremeCourt, Human rights, Jurisdiction, Kiobel, Mother company, Nike, Piercing the corporate veil, Regulation 1215/2012, Rio Tinto, RJR NABISCO, INC. v. EUROPEAN COMMUNITY, SC, United States Supreme Court, USSC
Doe v Nestle and Tiffany v China Merchants Bank et al: The concertina effect of the Alien Torts Statute
Update 8 July 2019 for the latest in the Doe v Nestle case see the Court of Appeals for the Ninth circuit here. The majority held that held that plaintiffs allege concrete and redressable injury that was fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of one defendant, and their allegations against another defendant were sufficient to allow a final opportunity to replead. This gives them enough standing for the case to continue on the merits.
I may yet have to insert a special category ‘ATS’ in the ‘Categories’ on the right hand side of this blog. Distinguishing, and precedent application alike keep on stretching cq enforcing the USCC’s decision in Kiobel.
On the precedent side of the debate, Tiffany v China Merchants Bank et al , the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals took the application of Kiobel in Daimler as cue for a refusal of the recognition of Asset Restraints and Discovery Orders against a Bank with merely branch offices in New York. The Bank’s sites of incorporation and principal places of business are all outside of the US. With reference to Daimler, the Court held that there is no basis on which to conclude that the Bank’s contacts in New York are so ‘continuous and systematic’ judged against their national and global activities, that they are ‘essentially at home’ in the State.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Doe v Nestle reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss ATS claims and arguably indeed adopted an extensive view of ‘aiding and abetting’ within the context of ATS: ‘Driven by the goal to reduce costs in any way possible, the defendants allegedly supported the use of child slavery, the cheapest form of labor available. These allegations explain how the use of child slavery benefitted the defendants and furthered their operational goals in the Ivory Coast, and therefore, the allegations support the inference that the defendants acted with the purpose to facilitate child slavery.’ : these allegations were considered to even meet the supposedly stricter ‘purpose’ test. Defendant’s market power and control over operations abroad seemed to have played an important role.
Applicants have now been allowed to re-plead given the intervening judgments by the USSC (the Doe v Nestle case has been running for a while)- watch this space, yet again.
17-55435, Alien Tort Statute, Asset Restraints and Discovery Orders, ATS, Comity, Corporate social responsibility, CSR, DaimlerChrysler, DaimlerChrysler v Bauman, Doe v Nestle, Extraterritoriality, http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/09/04/10-56739.pdf, http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2019/07/05/17-55435.pdf, Human rights, Inc. v. Bank of China, Jurisdiction, Kiobel, Nestle, Piercing the corporate veil, Recognition, Recognition and enforcement, Regulation 1215/2012, Rio Tinto, SC, SCOTUS, Tiffany, Tiffany (NJ) LLC v. China Merchants Bank and Gucci America, Touch and concern, United States Supreme Court, USSC
‘Apartheid’ dismissed and Al-Shimari distinguished: The bar is high for the ATS’ touch and concern test
For readers unfamiliar with earlier posts on the Alien Torts Statute and its role in the corporate social responsibility debate, the title of this piece may sound like gobbledygook. Review of the interim ruling in Apartheid probably helps. As I noted in that piece, Scheindlin USDJ instructed counsel to brief on the ‘touch and concern’ test put forward by the Supreme Court in Kiobel, with the warning that they must show in particular that the companies concerned acted ‘not only with the knowledge but with the purpose to aid and abet the South African regime’s tortious conduct as alleged in these complaints’.
Having now reviewed those extra briefs, she has decided that the high bar set by the USCC in Kiobel was not met in current case. She distinguished (at p.18) the case from Al-Shimari, for the alleged violation of international law was inflicted by the South African subsidiaries of the US defendant corporations, over whom defendants may have exercised control however control alone, it transpires, is not enough to create sufficient link with the US to meet the Kiobel test.
Applicants had previously already argued that critical policy level decisions were made in the US, and that the provision of expertise, management, technology and equipment essential to the alleged abuses came from the US. This has now, so it would seem, been further backed up by detailed facts however even these facts did not graduate so to speak the US companies’ involvement from management and effective control to ‘aiding and abetting’ as Scheindlin USDJ had instructed counsel to show.
Similarish issues are at stake in trying to subject activities taking place outside the EU, to EU law by virtue of companies’ EU headquarters.
02-md-1499, Alien Tort Statute, Apartheid, Comity, Corporate social responsibility, CSR, DaimlerChrysler, DaimlerChrysler v Bauman, Extraterritoriality, Human rights, In re South African Apartheid Litigation, Jurisdiction, Kiobel, Lungisile Ntsebeza et al v Ford General motors and IBM, Piercing the corporate veil, Regulation 1215/2012, Rio Tinto, SC, SCOTUS, Touch and concern, United States Supreme Court, USSC
Update 19 June 2017. SCOTUS held today in BMS and rejected jurisdiction.
Update 8 May 2017. Transcipt of pleadings issued in BMS and background here.
Update 12 January 2017 Bristol-Myers, if certiorari will be granted, will further define the limits to the Daimler case-law. Notice how Bristol-Myers, in their certiorari submission, emphasise predictability for the defendant: a sentiment often found in EU private international law. Update 19 January 2017. Certiorari granted.
Update 6 January 2017 a new case has just been launched in New York, against Germany, re its colonial past in Namibia, which one imagines will test both sovereign immunity and ATS.
(Update 3 September 2014: case dismissed end of August). Previous Update 25 July 2014: Docket still shows active case but no further development).
(Update on linked development: in April 2015, SCOTUS denied certiorari in Chiquita, in whuich the CA had applied Kiobel restrictively).
In Kiobel, the USSC /SCOTUS held on the basis of extraterritoriality: under what circumstances may US courts recognize a cause of action under the Alien Torts Statute, for violations of the law of nations, occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States? In focusing on this question (and replying in the negative), the SC did not entertain the question which actually led to certiorari, namely whether the law of nations recognises corporate liability.
Soon after the same USSC held in Daimler that general jurisdiction other than in the State of incorporation applies only (in the case of foreign companies) when a foreign company’s “continuous corporate operations within a state [are] so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities.”
In the ‘Apartheid litigation’ [Lungisile Ntsebeza et al v Ford General motors and IBM], the Southern District of New York picked up the issue where SCOTUS had left it: can corporations be held liable under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) for violations of “the law of nations”‘? Scheindlin USDJ held they can on 17 April last [Xander Meise Bay has a good overview of the successive litigation here]. She firstly held that it is federal common law that ought to decide whether this is so – not international law itself (ATS being a federal US Statute). Next she argued that the fact in particular (withheld by Jacobs J in Kiobel) that few corporations were ever held to account in a court of law for violations of public international law was not instrumental in finding against such liability.
Counsel have now been instructed to brief on the ‘touch and concern’ test put forward by the Supreme Court in Kiobel, with the warning that they must show in particular that the companies concerned acted ‘not only with the knowledge but with the purpose to aid and abet the South African regime’s tortious conduct as alleged in these complaints’. A strict timetable for arguments has been laid down whence the wait for further development should not be too long. (Update 25 July 2014: Docket still shows active case but no further development; Update 3 September 2014: case dismissed end of August).
02-md-1499, Alien Tort Statute, Apartheid, BMS, Bristol Meyers, Colonialism, Comity, Corporate social responsibility, CSR, Daimler, DaimlerChrysler, DaimlerChrysler v Bauman, Extraterritoriality, Germany, http://opiniojuris.org/wp-content/uploads/17-Apr-SDNY-Opinion.pdf, Human rights, In re South African Apartheid Litigation, Jurisdiction, Kiobel, Lungisile Ntsebeza et al v Ford General motors and IBM, Namibia, Piercing the corporate veil, Regulation 1215/2012, Rio Tinto, SC, SCOTUS, United States Supreme Court, USSC
USSC rejects US jurisdiction in Daimler v Bauman. General jurisdiction not easily eastablished lest in a company’s true home.
Update For a September 2017 application see the Illinois Supreme Court in Aspen Insurance v Interstate Warehousing.
The United States Supreme Court on 14 January rejected US jurisdiction in Daimler v Bauman. See previous posting on this case here and ultra-short reference here. Chief Justice Roberts’ and concurring opinions in Kiobel leave room for further distinguishing. Daimler does less so. The Court in the end did not focus too much on the issue of agency and attributability of a subsidiary’s actions to the mother company (Daimler is a German corporation that was sued in California by Argentinian plaintiffs for human rights violations in Argentina. The Californian link was a subsidiary which distributes cars there but which is not incorporated there: its corporate home is Delaware).
As William Baud points out, the USSC (as indeed do highest courts of the land elsewhere) does not necessarily decide on the points which counsel would like it to decide. Instead, the USSC generally upholds a restrictive view of general jurisdiction. Per International Shoe [see also Dwight Healy and Owen Pell], general jurisdiction other than in the State of incorporation applies only (in the case of foreign companies) when a foreign company’s “continuous corporate operations within a state [are] so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities.”
If you want to sue a company on the basis of its having its ‘home’ in the forum, then that home better be exactly that. Not, as here, merely a condo in the US when its true home lies in Germany.
Generally, the USSC held that a state court may exercise general jurisdiction over out-of-state corporations when their “affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systematic’ as to render them essentially at home in the forum State.”
(Writing for the majority) Judge Ginsburg (p.23) noted the difference between the Court of Appeal’s approach and the EU approach when it comes to overall personal jurisdiction over corporations (she referred to the recast Brussels I Regulation, 1215/2012, which is yet to apply but which in substance on this issue does not differ from the previous version). However in reality there is quite a different direction (compared to Daimler) which the EU takes vis-a-vis foreign corporations, in the particular context of B2B consumer contracts as well as employment contracts (an entirely different subject-matter, I appreciate).
Alien Tort Statute, Comity, Corporate social responsibility, CSR, DaimlerChrysler, DaimlerChrysler v Bauman, Extraterritoriality, http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2017/121281.pdf, http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/11-965_1qm2.pdf, Human rights, Jurisdiction, Kiobel, Piercing the corporate veil, Regulation 1215/2012, Rio Tinto, SC, United States Supreme Court, USSC
That did not take long! DaimlerChrysler v Bauman may clarify Kiobel – Corporate Social Responsibility remains in the Supreme Court spotlight
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.
Alien Tort Statute, ATS, Corporate social responsibility, CSR, DaimlerChrysler, DaimlerChrysler v Bauman, Extraterritoriality, Human rights, Jurisdiction, Kiobel, Piercing the corporate veil, Rio Tinto, Sarei v Rio Tinto, SC, United States Supreme Court, USSC
- Koza v Akcil: The UK Supreme Court does not follow Court of Appeal on exclusive jurisdiction for company matters. 15/08/2019
- Politus BV. The Nyrstar (Belgium) scheme of arrangement’s jurisdictional confirmation. 13/08/2019
- ED&F Man Capital Markets v Come Harvest Holding et al. First application of the UKSC Vedanta ruling and applicable law issues under Rome II Articles 4 and 10. 08/08/2019
- W v L. Brussels IIa and forum non conveniens ex-EU. 06/08/2019
- The wealth in Paul Holgate v Addleshaw Goddard (Scotland). Intra-UK conflicts, the Gourdain insolvency exception; anchoring; forum contractus; and a stay on forum non conveniens grounds. 01/08/2019
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