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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All Results for Transnational

  1. Third Party Litigation Financing in Australia: Class Actions, Conflicts and Controversy

    October 23, 2013 | Research

    Authored by Moira Saville of King & Wood Mallesons, this paper addresses the lack of regulation of third-party litigation financing in Australia.... Read More

  2. In the News Today - October 21, 2013

    October 21, 2013 | News and Blog

    JP Morgan has tentatively agreed to pay $13 billion to settle investigations by the Department of Justice into their mortgage-backed securities business, but the deal reportedly would not settle a criminal probe. ... Read More

  3. In the News

    September 25, 2013 | News and Blog

    A week after six lawyers left a Plaintiffs Steering Committee, a lawyer has voluntarily dropped a bellweather transvaginal mesh case against CR Bard Inc. ... Read More

  4. In the News

    September 24, 2013 | News and Blog

    On Monday, BP asked a court to halt payments from the gulf oil spill settlement fund until the administrator implements recommendations to improve efficiency and accounting controls.... Read More

  5. Should State Law Rule the World?

    September 24, 2013 | News and Blog

    Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum, issued a landmark ruling that curbed a pernicious abuse of the Alien Tort Statute. ... Read More

  6. In the News

    September 23, 2013 | News and Blog

    After an Oregon state court granted jurisdiction over a U.S. company and its foreign parent, Danish company Novo Nordisk is asking the Supreme Court to clarify whether a foreign company can be held liable for products handled by the American subsidiary.... Read More

  7. In the News

    September 20, 2013 | News and Blog

    As part of its $920 million settlement with US and UK regulators, JP Morgan has agreed to an admission of wrongdoing in the "London Whale" case. ... Read More

  8. International Tribunal Rules for Chevron

    September 19, 2013 | News and Blog

    On Tuesday, an international tribunal ruled that Chevron is not liable for environmental damage claims in Ecuador.... Read More

  9. Taming Tort Tourism

    September 19, 2013 | News and Blog

    In 1895, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judgments rendered by foreign courts could be recognized and enforced in the U.S., if the foreign court had abided by certain American standards of jurisprudence. However, this clear and effective precedent was short-lived. ... Read More

  10. In the News

    September 18, 2013 | News and Blog

    The world's biggest litigation funder, Burford Capital, announced a 41% increase in operating income from last year. Burford also disclosed it currently has $266 million invested in 29 litigation financing operations.... Read More