Alien Tort Statute

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The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) grants U.S. district courts jurisdiction over cases in which an alien sues “for a tort only… in violation of the law of nations or of a treaty of the United States.” In 1980, the Second Circuit’s opinion in Filártiga v. Peña-Irala set new precedent for interpreting the ATS, allowing foreign citizens to use U.S. courts to litigate violations of international law that occurred outside the United States. The statute quickly became a tool of those seeking relief for human rights violations. While its scope was restricted by a 2013 Supreme Court decision limiting its application in cases with a minimal connection to the United States, the ATS’ scope and meaning remain a contentious topic with far-reaching implications.

Latest in Alien Tort Statute

Alien Tort Statute

Jesner v. Arab Bank: The Supreme Court Should Not Miss the Opportunity to Clarify the “Touch and Concern” Test

Jesner v. Arab Bank, a case concerning the Alien Tort Statute in which the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on Wednesday, will give the court a chance to clarify the cryptic "touch and concern" standard.

Alien Tort Statute

Corporate Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute Returns to Supreme Court in Jesner v. Arab Bank

The Supreme Court punted on the question of corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute in its 2013 Kiobel decision; corporate liability is once again the explicit question in a case accepted by the Court on April 3, 2017, Jesner v. Arab Bank, No. 16-499. 

Alien Tort Statute

The Alien Tort Statute and the Morrison “Focus” Test: Still Disagreement After RJR Nabisco

Last month, the Fifth Circuit issued a split opinion in Adhikari v. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., representing the first ATS case to be decided post-RJR Nabisco.  The opinion, issued over a vigorous dissent, suggests that it may be premature to say that RJR Nabisco resolves the circuit split over the interpretation of “touch and concern.”

Alien Tort Statute

Warfaa v. Ali: Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Somali’s Alien Tort Statute Claims

The Fourth Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of Alien Tort Statute claims against a former Colonel in the Somali National Army by a member of clan persecuted by the Barre regime who he detained, interrogated, tortured, shot, and left for dead.

Alien Tort Statute

Corporate Liability and the ATS: Arab Bank Appeal Continues to Define Kiobel Legacy

At a time of heightened concern over a new wave of terrorism financing threats, the decade-long Arab Bank terrorism financing litigation took another turn this week when the Second Circuit denied several thousand terrorism victims the right to pursue claims against the Jordan-based Arab Bank PLC in U.S. federal court.

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