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Court Decision Could Block Alien Tort Statute Claims Against Corporations

The Alien Tort Statute was written into the Judiciary Act of 1789 but sat dormant for almost 200 years until the 2nd Circuit established in 1980 in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala the use of the ATS as a remedy for violations of international law, allowing civil claims from Paraguayan plaintiffs against a Paraguayan official to be heard in a U.S. court. Plaintiffs' lawyers latched onto the statute and began filling class actions based on human rights violations in foreign countries. Since then, the number of ATS lawsuits has grown steadily. The history of the ATS took another turn in the 1990s, when lawyers thought to apply it to suits against multinational companies.

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Melissa Maleske

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