Petitioner Esther Kiobel, representing a group of individuals from the Ogoni region in Nigeria, filed a class action lawsuit against Respondents, the Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., Shell Transport and Trading Company PLC, and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, LTD (“Royal Dutch”) under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). The ATS grants jurisdiction to some federal courts for certain violations of international law. Petitioners allege that Royal Dutch aided the Nigerian government in committing various acts of violence against protestors of the oil exploration projects in the Ogoni region. Petitioners claim that they have standing to sue under the ATS because the history, text, and purpose of the statute support the application of the ATS to actions in foreign countries. Petitioner also contends that previous court decisions interpreted the ATS to extend beyond U.S. territory. In response, Royal Dutch argues that the ATS is not an exception to the presumption that U.S. law does not apply extraterritorially, and should not be applicable to actions outside of the U.S. The Court's decision in this case will clarify the reach of the U.S. federal courts' jurisdiction over certain extraterritorial tort claims.
- Alliance for Justice: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.
- Corporate Counsel: Will Alien Tort Case Be the Next Citizens United? (Feb. 3, 2012)
- Huffington Post: Supreme Court to Rule on Corporate Personhood for Crimes Against Humanity (Oct. 17, 2011)
- The New York Times: Should Corporations Have More Leeway to Kill Than People Do? (Feb. 24, 2012)
- American Society of International Law: The Reargument Order in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Its Potential Implications for Transnational Human Rights Cases. (Mar. 21, 2012)
- Center for Constitutional Rights: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. Synopsis
- American Constitution Society for Law and Policy: Supreme Court Widens Scope of Case on Corporate Accountability for Human Rights. (Mar. 5, 2012)