According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chiquita Brands International has asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Atlanta, Georgia, to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Chiquita by thousands of Colombian citizens whose relatives were killed in Colombia's ongoing civil war. The Colombians have alleged in the lawsuit that Chiquita financially supported a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group implicated in the deaths of thousands of civilians. According to the suit, Chiquita paid the paramilitary group, United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, approximately $1.7 million over a seven-year period. These payments aided and abetted the group and its extra-judicial killings.
Chiquita wants the lawsuit dismissed because it claims each killing cannot be tied directly to the company. Also, Chiquita has argued that dismissal is warranted because of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Alien Tort Statute, the statute under which both the Kiobel and Chiquita cases were brought, does not apply to cases involving foreign plaintiffs, foreign defendants and complained of activity which occurred entirely abroad. The Kiobel case was deemed by many to be a serious blow to human rights efforts to hold corporations responsible for atrocities committed abroad. However, the lower courts are still defining the precise contours of the case.
Although daunting, cases such as Chiquita and Kiobel are vital in efforts to reign in the most egregious corporate abuses. While the Kiobel decision no doubt established limits to these efforts in U.S. courts, there are still many tools available in U.S. courts to human rights advocates, and they must be used wisely and aggressively in order to deter would-be corporate abusers from engaging in questionable conduct.
The attorneys at Pavich Law Group, P.C., are established leaders in efforts to hold corporations accountable for their human rights and corporate abuses. If you or a loved one has been victimized by the actions of a corporation, contact Pavich Law Group, P.C., today for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for any wrong you may have suffered.