In a rubber match before the 7th Circuit this week, a panel of three judges decided to dismiss a sticky child labor case against Firestone Natural Rubber Co. The plaintiffs alleged in Boimah Flomo, et al. v Firestone Natural Rubber Co., LLC that Firestone and its officers and affiliates had violated the Alien Tort Statute by knowingly employing children on its Liberian rubber plantation.
According to the plaintiffs, Firestone violated customary international law by putting 23 children to work on its 118,000-acre plantation. The panel affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss Firestone as a defendant, but disagreed with the district court on whether corporations can be held liable under the Alien Tort Statute. The district court had accepted Firestone’s argument that, historically, corporations have not been prosecuted under the statute so, therefore, such recourse did not exist.