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



As Kiobel Turns Two: How the Supreme Court is Leaving the Details to Lower Courts

August 11, 2015 | This paper explores the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court's Kiobel decision on Alien Tort Statute (ATS) litigation in lower courts, and how lower courts have struggled to determine whether Kiobel permits U.S. corporations to be sued under the ATS for alleged torts in foreign countries.

Federal Cases from Foreign Places: How the Supreme Court Has Limited Foreign Disputes From Flooding U.S. Courts

October 21, 2014 | This collection of essays examines the shifting legal landscape of federal claims by foreign plaintiffs in the federal courts and focuses on the most common statutes invoked by foreign plaintiffs, as well as the threshold issues of personal jurisdiction and pleading standards that govern such suits.

All Results for Transnational

In the News Today - September 20, 2017

September 20, 2017 | News and Blog

Rebuke Of Bentham Deal May Chill Canada Class Suit Funding; NCAA Concussion Class Blasts $6M Fee Request Read More »

"Thinking About the Growth of Third-Party Litigation Financing"

September 18, 2017 | News and Blog

As the litigation funding industry continues to grow, it's time to answer a simple question, says Kevin LaCroix of the D&O Diary: "What are the implications?" Read More »

In the News Today - September 15, 2017

September 15, 2017 | News and Blog

Law firm wants to bring Bentham-funded ‘class action' in Channel Islands Read More »

In the News Today - September 11, 2017

September 11, 2017 | News and Blog

LexShares Eyes $25M for New Litigation Investment Fund: Online litigation funding platform LexShares announced last week it is seeking $25 million for a managed fund that will be used to fund a broad portfolio of U.S. lawsuits. Read More »

TPLF Changing "Tipping Point" Between Settling or Litigating

August 29, 2017 | News and Blog

In a Law360 op-ed, David Silver of Silver Public Relations, says that third party litigation funding (TPLF) has "added a distinct variable to the world of civil litigation" that will "continue to change the calculus" for defendants weighing the option of settling or litigating. Read More »

Defense Counsel Leader Says TPLF Disclosure Can Reduce Costs

August 28, 2017 | News and Blog

Mark Behrens, co-chairman of Shook, Hardy & Bacon's public policy group and chairman of the International Association of Defense Counsel's civil justice response committee, told National Law Journal that third party litigation funding (TPLF) "can raise ethical problems" and lead to inflated litigation costs. Read More »

In the News Today - August 17, 2017

August 17, 2017 | News and Blog

UK Litigation Funder Woodsford Puts $20M Toward Lewis Baach: Litigation funding firm Woodsford Litigation Funding, which opened its first U.S. office less than a month ago, announced a $20 million investment deal with Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss. A joint statement said that the agreement allows Lewis Baach to use the funds in any jurisdiction. Read More »

In the News Today - August 4, 2017

August 04, 2017 | News and Blog

Third party litigation funding firms have presented themselves as another option for litigators to leave Big Law. Read More »

In the News Today - August 2, 2017

August 02, 2017 | News and Blog

U.K. law firm Shepherd & Wedderburn LLP and leading litigation financier Burford Capital have inked a deal to fund an array of the firm's cases as part of the first portfolio-based litigation funding agreement with a major British firm, according to a joint statement. Read More »

In the News Today - July 27, 2017

July 27, 2017 | News and Blog

Earlier this month, the U.K.'s Competition Appeal Tribunal found that consumer litigation against MasterCard over swipe fees couldn't move forward as a class action. Read More »

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