Doe v. Nestle, S.A.

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' class action against cocoa bean companies, alleging the aiding and abetting of child slave labor that took place in the United States under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). Plaintiffs are former child slaves who were forced to work on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. The district court dismissed the complaint based on its conclusion that the complaint sought an impermissible extraterritorial application of the ATS. In light of Jesner v. Arab Bank, 138 S. Ct. 1386 (2018), which changed the legal landscape on which plaintiffs constructed their case, the panel remanded to allow plaintiffs to amend their complaint to specify whether aiding and abetting conduct that took place in the United States is attributable to the domestic corporations. The panel held that the aiding and abetting conduct comes within the focus of the ATS and the ATS’s focus on torts committed in violation of the law of nations. The panel also held that a narrow set of specific domestic conduct was relevant to the ATS's focus. In this case, plaintiffs have alleged that defendants funded child slavery practices in the Ivory Coast. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that defendants provided personal spending money outside the ordinary business contract and the money was given with the purpose of maintaining ongoing relations with the farms so that defendants could continue receiving cocoa at a price that would not be obtainable without child slave labor. Furthermore, defendants had employees from their United States headquarters regularly inspect operations in the Ivory Coast and report back to the United States offices, where these financing decisions or arrangements originated. View "Doe v. Nestle, S.A." on Justia Law