October 1, 2011
Partner Philip D. Robben discussed corporate liability for foreign conduct in the GC Agenda section of Practical Law The Journal (October 2011). He reviewed Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co., where the Seventh Circuit held corporate liability is possible under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). However, even with this ruling, the court affirmed the dismissal of the case accusing Firestone affiliates in Liberia of violating international child labor laws.
Mr. Robben analyzed Doe VIII v. Exxon Mobile Corp. The D.C. circuit court held Exxon could be liable under the ATS for human rights abuses allegedly committed by Indonesian soldiers who provided security at the local Mobil plant. Flomo and Exxon strongly diverged from Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. In that case, the Second Circuit held the ATS may not be used to prosecute corporations for its misconduct committed in other countries.
Finally, Mr. Robben provides suggestions on how U.S. companies with abroad operations can minimize ATS liability risks.