SCOTUS Says Corporations Can't Be Sued Under 220-Year-Old Law

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April 25, 2018

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court said foreign corporations cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute, a law passed in the United States in 1789.

The law has typically been used against multinational companies for alleged roles in controversies and disputes around the world. The lead opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said U.S. courts “are not well suited to make the required policy judgments that are implicated by corporate liability.” The U.S. Chamber Litigation Center filed an amicus brief in the case.

This is the second time in five years that the U.S. Supreme Court has scaled back the scope of the law. In 2013, the court said in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum that the statute generally doesn’t apply to conduct outside of the United States.