Transnational

Over the past 15 years, there has been a sharp rise in lawsuits brought against American companies, as well as foreign companies with a substantial U.S. presence, that are premised on alleged personal or environmental injuries occurring abroad. These cases raise the question of whether U.S. courts should be the venue for cases concerning conduct occurring outside the territory of the United States. They have also been characterized by controversial and abusive tactics by plaintiffs and their lawyers.

Many of those transnational lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. by plaintiffs’ class action firms, public interest attorneys and non-governmental organizations.  Some have been filed in federal courts under the 200-year old Alien Tort Statute (ATS), while many more have been brought in state courts under common law theories of liability. 

These cases raise several concerns. One is the use of U.S. courts for adjudicating disputes that occurred outside of the country. It is a generally established principle that U.S. courts should not hear cases involving foreign conduct unless there is a significant nexus to the United States. By undermining this principle, these cases set a precedent that could be used to expose Americans to litigation in foreign courts over conduct occurring in the United States.

Equally troubling are the tactics used in these cases. According to ILR’s study Think Globally, Sue Locally, transnational cases are characterized by a number of features, including aggressive media tactics, organized protests and boycotts of corporate defendants, political pressure and, in some cases, outright fraud and abuse by plaintiffs’ lawyers. In the major transnational case against Chevron in Ecuador, four federal courts have found the proceedings tainted by fraud.

In April 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum that claims of wrongful conduct on foreign soil cannot be brought in U.S. courts under the ATS.  This ruling has substantially limited the use of the ATS in transnational cases, but does not deter cases brought under state common law. A complete list of lawsuits against corporations under the Alien Tort Statute can be found here

 

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  1. ILR's Faulk: Wisconsin TPLF Law Signals a "Growing Movement"

    April 11, 2018 | News

    U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) Senior Vice President of Legal Reform Initiatives Page Faulk told the ABA Journal Wisconsin's new law that requires disclosure of all third party litigation funding arrangements is "another step in what's become a growing movement."... Read More

  2. LaCroix: It's Time To Talk About Third Party Litigation Funding

    April 06, 2018 | News

    After Wisconsin became the first state to pass a law requiring disclosure of third party litigation funding, D&O Diary's Kevin LaCroix said the "time has come" for debate.... Read More

  3. ILR's Rickard: Hope "Other States Will Follow" Wisconsin's Lead on TPLF

    April 05, 2018 | News

    In an interview with the National Law Journal, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) President Lisa A. Rickard said other states should follow Wisconsin's lead by requiring third party litigation funding disclosure.... Read More

  4. Wisconsin Governor Signs First-in-the-Nation TPLF Transparency Bill

    April 04, 2018 | News

    Gov. Scott Walker yesterday signed a bill that makes Wisconsin the first state in the country to require disclosure of third party litigation funding arrangements, Law360 reports.... Read More

  5. Six Federal Appeals Courts Require TPLF Disclosure, Report Finds

    March 28, 2018 | News

    A new report from the federal court administration's committee on federal civil rules found that six U.S. federal appeals courts now require some form of third party litigation funding transparency, Law360 reports.... Read More

  6. Third Party Funders Admit: "We Make it Harder and More Expensive to Settle Cases"

    March 21, 2018 | News

    In a Wall Street Journal story on the litigation finance industry today, Allison Chock, the Chief Investment Officer for third-party litigation giant IMF Bentham, said she understands perfectly well why her industry faces criticism from civil justice groups. "We make it harder and more expensive to settle cases," she stated.... Read More

  7. In the News Today - March 15, 2018

    March 15, 2018 | News

    Litigation Funder Deepening Ties to U.S. Law Firms; The Ecuador Saga Continues: Steven Donziger now owes Chevron more than $800,000... Read More

  8. In the News Today - March 14, 2018

    March 14, 2018 | News

    Third Party Litigation Funder's Shares Up 30%... Read More

  9. In the News Today - February 27, 2018

    February 27, 2018 | News

    DOJ Memo Addresses 'Parasitic' Whistleblower Cases Under False Claims Act; GKC Founders, Burford Execs Launch Plaintiff-Side Litigation Firm... Read More

  10. Georgia Supreme Court Will Hear Lawsuit Lending Case

    February 07, 2018 | News

    The Georgia Supreme Court will hear a case that could decide whether lawsuit lending arrangements actually qualify as loans under state law and are subject to regulation.... Read More