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Coke Bottlers Fight ATCA Claims

A Miami district judge dismissed a lawsuit Oct. 3 that accused Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. and four of its bottling affiliates of acting as co-conspirators in the death and torture of its Colombian union members.

In the 2001 suit, Sinaltrainal, et al v. Coca-Cola Co., Colombian union Sinaltrainal and several workers accused the company of hiring and conspiring with right-wing paramilitary groups to use force against the company's labor union members. The plaintiffs brought the suit under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victims' Protection Act (TVPA) and sought $500 million in damages.

In 2003, the U.S. District Court dismissed charges against The Coca-Cola Co. for lack of jurisdiction. However, the judge allowed the case against the bottlers to go forward. In October, U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez found that the court lacked jurisdiction over the bottlers and said the accusations were too "vague."

"Demonstrating indirect liability for human rights abuses on the part of corporate entities is an inherently difficult task," U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez wrote in his 54-page ruling.

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