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Second Circuit's rejection of corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute stands

08 February 2011

Energy Alert and Litigation Alert

In a short, but sharply divided decision rendered on 4 February 2011, the Second Circuit denied rehearing in banc of a 17 September 2010 panel decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum holding that because corporate liability is not recognized under customary international law, federal courts do not have jurisdiction to hear cases brought against corporations under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute. By characterizing the case as one that "presents a serious issue and generates a circuit split" the dissenters clearly expressed the view that the issue is ripe for Supreme Court review. On the same day, the Kiobel panel rejected two-to-one plaintiffs' request for a panel rehearing. As a consequence, corporations will continue not to be subject to Alien Tort Statute claims in the Second Circuit.



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