US appeals court rejects apartheid cases against Ford, IBM - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

US appeals court rejects apartheid cases against Ford, IBM

By LARRY NEUMEISTER
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Victims of apartheid in South Africa cannot sue IBM Corp. and Ford Motor Corp. in New York because they cannot show that the companies' alleged offending behavior occurred in the United States, a federal appeals court said Monday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against lawsuits brought 13 years ago against the Armonk, New York-based IBM and Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford.

In its ruling, a three-judge panel cited a 2013 Supreme Court ruling severely limiting the legal reach of the 1789 Alien Tort Statute. The law was created in part to deal with piracy claims but in recent decades human rights lawyers have used it to pursue damages from individuals or companies alleged to have supported abuses around the world.

In a decision written by Circuit Judge Jose A. Cabranes, the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan upheld a decision by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin last year that tossed out the lawsuits because the conduct at issue occurred abroad. Close to 80 companies initially were named in the lawsuits, but the vast majority of those claims were rejected.

The lawsuits alleged that Ford provided specialized vehicles to the South African police and securities forces to help enforce apartheid - the country's former system of white minority rule - and shared information with government officials about anti-apartheid and union activists. They said IBM designed technologies that were essential for racial separation under apartheid.

The 2nd Circuit said the claims against Ford fail because it was the automaker's South African subsidiary that was alleged to have assembled and sold specialized vehicles to the government. The subsidiary also was accused of providing information to the South African government about anti-apartheid activities.

The appeals court said Ford could not be held directly responsible for its subsidiary's actions because well-settled principles of corporate law treat parent corporations and their subsidiaries as legally distinct entities.

As for IBM, the 2nd Circuit said it cannot be held liable for the actions of its South African subsidiary, though the judges noted that the lawsuits allege that the parent company acted with knowledge that its acts might facilitate apartheid policies. Still, it found the allegations fell short of showing IBM acted purposefully.

"Indeed, plaintiffs do not - and cannot - plausibly allege that by developing hardware and software to collect innocuous population data, IBM's purpose was to denationalize black South Africans and further the aims of a brutal regime," the court said.

Lawyers in the case did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Sex abuse victims join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs

    Sex abuse victims join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 11:20 PM EDT2018-07-19 03:20:36 GMT
    Thursday, July 19 2018 7:34 AM EDT2018-07-19 11:34:04 GMT
    (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP) Former gymnast Sarah Klein, former Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and gymnast Aly Raisman, from left in front, and others who suffered sexual abuse accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.(Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP) Former gymnast Sarah Klein, former Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and gymnast Aly Raisman, from left in front, and others who suffered sexual abuse accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

    The women who spoke out against the abuse by Larry Nassar stood together Wednesday night in a powerful and solemn closing to the show highlighting the past year's top athletes and moments in sports.

    The women who spoke out against the abuse by Larry Nassar stood together Wednesday night in a powerful and solemn closing to the show highlighting the past year's top athletes and moments in sports.

  • Amid harsh criticism, Trump tries a tougher tone on Russia

    Amid harsh criticism, Trump tries a tougher tone on Russia

    Thursday, July 19 2018 12:30 AM EDT2018-07-19 04:30:42 GMT
    Thursday, July 19 2018 7:31 AM EDT2018-07-19 11:31:34 GMT
    (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais). President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during his meeting with members of his cabinet in Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Looking on is Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat...(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais). President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during his meeting with members of his cabinet in Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Looking on is Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat...

    Trump said Wednesday he told the Russian president face-to-face during Monday's summit to stay out of America's elections "and that's the way it's going to be."

    Trump said Wednesday he told the Russian president face-to-face during Monday's summit to stay out of America's elections "and that's the way it's going to be."

  • Recall: Great Value rolls among bread products possibly tainted with Salmonella

    Recall: Great Value rolls among bread products possibly tainted with Salmonella

    Thursday, July 19 2018 7:15 AM EDT2018-07-19 11:15:38 GMT
    Thursday, July 19 2018 7:25 AM EDT2018-07-19 11:25:39 GMT
    The Flowers Food bread line is shown in Modesto, CA. Some Flowers Foods products have been recalled out of concern over Salmonella from a whey supplier. (Source: Flowers Food)The Flowers Food bread line is shown in Modesto, CA. Some Flowers Foods products have been recalled out of concern over Salmonella from a whey supplier. (Source: Flowers Food)

    The recalled rolls are under the brand names Mrs. Freshley’s, Food Lion, H-E-B, Baker’s Treat, Market Square and Great Value.

    The recalled rolls are under the brand names Mrs. Freshley’s, Food Lion, H-E-B, Baker’s Treat, Market Square and Great Value.

Powered by Frankly