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.
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. Read More
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. Read More
All Results for Transnational
June 26, 2018 | News
This week, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is celebrating its 20th anniversary. ILR President Lisa A. Rickard sat for a question-and-answer discussion with Corporate Counsel on the development of the legal landscape during the first 20 years of ILR.... Read More
June 22, 2018 | News
A class action defense lawyer in Australia said the Victorian Law Reform Commission's recommendation report on class action litigation regulation was "very disappointing," the Australian Financial Review reports.... Read More
June 18, 2018 | News
Associate Attorney General Cites Importance of Corporate Compliance Culture; Australian Attorney General Backs Licensing as "Sensible Approach" to Regulation of Third Party Litigation Funding... Read More
June 11, 2018 | News
West Virginia Governor, Legislative Leaders Call for Loughry Ouster; Class-Action Shakedown ... Read More
June 04, 2018 | News
In a Des Moines Register op-ed, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform President Lisa A. Rickard said it is "vital that Congress recognizes the need for oversight of" third party litigation funding, "which undermines fairness and ethical practice in our courts."... Read More
May 24, 2018 | News
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody invalidated all lawsuit loans in the National Football League (NFL) concussion settlement to "prevent breach of the settlement agreement," Law360 reports.... Read More
May 21, 2018 | News
Private Equity Firms and Hedge Funds "Found a New Way to Get Richer" By Funding Lawsuits; "Recent Developments Have Let the Air Out of Slack Fill Lawsuits"... Read More
May 15, 2018 | News
Five days after the Litigation Funding Transparency Act of 2018 was introduced in the U.S. Senate, National Law Journal gathered the thoughts of the legal industry's top members.... Read More
May 11, 2018 | News
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Senator John Cornyn, and Senator Thom Tillis introduced a bill that would require third party litigation funding and lawsuit lending arrangements be disclosed, Legal Newsline reports.... Read More
May 10, 2018 | News
U.S. Senators Introduce Landmark TPLF bill; Georgia Supreme Court to Decide the Future of Lawsuit Lending... Read More