Transnational

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

 

Research

As Kiobel Turns Two: How the Supreme Court is Leaving the Details to Lower Courts

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.

Federal Cases from Foreign Places: How the Supreme Court Has Limited Foreign Disputes From Flooding U.S. Courts

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.

All Results for Transnational

In the News Today - March 21, 2017

March 21, 2017 | News and Blog

U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Martin Kenney and Garrett Kelleher after both failed to appear to determine their liability to insurer Cigna. In 2016, Judge Diamond ruled that Kenney and Kelleher had "repeatedly thumbed their noses at the courts of the United States" and were liable to Cigna for "orchestrating" continued action against the company. Read More »

The Growth of Collective Redress in the EU: A Survey of Developments in 10 Member States

Author: Ken Daly, Sidley Austin LLP | March 21, 2017 | Research

This paper examines the 'state of play' of collective redress in 10 Member States in the EU and suggests minimum necessary safeguards to prevent litigation abuse taking hold in Europe. Read More »

In the News Today - March 13, 2017

March 12, 2017 | News and Blog

U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) sent letters to the American Bar Association and every state bar association, urging the organizations to adopt requirements for warnings on trial lawyer advertisements that urge patients to discontinue the use of some medicines. Read More »

Class Action Reform Bill Would Spotlight "Cottage Industry" of Third-Party Litigation Funders

February 24, 2017 | News and Blog

In a story examining the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, the Wall Street Journal's Ben Depietro looks specifically at measures in the legislation that would "require disclosure of third parties funding class actions," and notes the U.S. Chamber's support for the bill. Read More »

In the News Today - February 24, 2017

February 24, 2017 | News and Blog

The American Law Institute is "cooking up new common law rules covering consumer contracts that would give courts an unprecedented range of reasons to invalidate or rewrite contract terms." Read More »

Australian Litigation Funder Expands to Texas as Industry Faces 'Increased Scrutiny' from Courts

February 22, 2017 | News and Blog

Australia-based third party litigation funder Bentham IMF is expanding to Texas, and has hired Eric Chenoweth, a commercial and intellectual property litigator at Yetter Coleman, to lead its Houston office. Read More »

In the News Today - February 16, 2017

February 16, 2017 | News and Blog

The current asbestos system is plagued by rampant fraud and abuse by plaintiffs' lawyers; this abuse harms both alleged victims and the economy. Thankfully, Congress is taking action to address this by advancing the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, which passed out of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. The bill, among other provisions, aims to shine a light on these trusts so that compensation goes to legitimate victims. Read More »

Michigan Endowment to Invest in Litigation Funding

February 15, 2017 | News and Blog

The University of Michigan plans to invest $50 million with a fund co-founded by Boaz Weinstein and Lee Drucker that specializes in litigation strategy. Read More »

In the News Today - February 8, 2017

February 08, 2017 | News and Blog

According to London law firm RPC, the 20 biggest independent litigation funders in the U.K. ballooned from 575 million pounds in 2015 to 723 million pounds in the last year. The firm claims these entities increased litigation funding as they "gear up to fund more businesses pursuing legal dispute." Read More »

In the News Today - January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017 | News and Blog

As we enter 2017 with a new administration, new Congress, and renewed hope for legal reform, we are faced with the unsettling fact that the explosive growth of abusive Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation continues. Read More »

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